Centre for Inflammation Research

GlaxoSmithKline agree second collaborative partnership

February 2014: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have agreed a collaborative partnership to discover and develop medicines with the potential to treat liver disease.

The University of Edinburgh and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have agreed a collaborative partnership to discover and develop medicines with the potential to treat liver disease – the fifth biggest killer in the UK.

This alliance – the second of its kind between the University and GSK will see University researchers working alongside GSK scientists to develop new treatments for liver disease.

Through a number of experimental approaches, University researchers have identified a mechanism important in the treatment of chronic liver disease (fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver) – and in partnership with GSK, the aim is to expedite this into drug discovery and translation of a new medicine into the clinic.

Dr Jonathan Fallowfield, Senior Clinical Fellow and Honorary Consultant Hepatologist at the University of Edinburgh said: "Although there have been substantial advances in our understanding of the basic mechanisms of fibrosis, and numerous anti-fibrotic targets identified, they have proven difficult to translate into therapies.

"If we can harness the therapeutic properties of this mechanism, we could prevent, halt or even reverse liver scarring. This is potentially very exciting and would transform the way we view and manage chronic liver disease in the future".

Both the liver collaboration and the ongoing collaboration between the University and GSK on pancreatitis were formed through GSK's Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) initiative. The goal of this initiative is to bring together the complementary skills from academia and GSK into partnerships that could translate innovative academic research into medicines for patients.

Under the terms of the agreement negotiated by Edinburgh BioQuarter, the University will receive success-based financial support from GSK linked to reaching agreed milestones, as well as an undisclosed upfront payment and royalties on sales from any product that is successfully commercialised out of the collaboration. Work on the project will be carried out both within GSK and at the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine located at Edinburgh BioQuarter, Scotland's flagship life sciences development.

Dr Diane Harbison, Head of Business Development at Edinburgh BioQuarter, said; "Drug discovery and clinical translation is expensive and time-consuming with a high attrition rate. The best chance of success in the area of anti-fibrotic treatment is to marry the drug discovery expertise and infrastructure of big Pharma with the deep biological insight and patient availability of clinical academia.

"We were delighted to have been selected as one of the original DPAc projects being awarded globally by GSK. Having two DPAc collaborations now in place demonstrates the strength and depth of translational research being conducted here in Edinburgh."

Link to Article in The Scotsman