MRC, GSK and five UK universities link up to accelerate drug development for inflammatory diseases
EMINENT network aims to improve the success rate for discovering new potential treatments for these and other diseases
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the UK's Medical Research Council (MRC) are to collaborate in an open innovation research initiative aiming to improve scientists’ understanding of inflammatory diseases.
The Experimental Medicine Initiative to Explore New Therapies (EMINENT) network will be coordinated by University College London (UCL) and will bring together researchers from the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Newcastle, Imperial College London and UCL, with GSK scientists to study the fundamental biological mechanisms responsible for a range of inflammatory diseases. It is hoped that combining the disease biology expertise of academic scientists with GSK’s drug development knowhow and resources will ultimately accelerate the development of innovative treatments for patients.
By gaining a better understanding of the inflammatory process in diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and fibrosis, the collaboration aims to improve the success rate for discovering new potential treatments for these and other diseases.
Through the EMINENT network, MRC funding of up to £8m over five years will support academic costs. This will be matched with GSK in-kind contributions, including access to a portfolio of currently available medicines, experimental compounds, screening facilities and the company’s own drug discovery and development expertise.
While GSK will retain ownership of the intellectual property covering these medicines and compounds, joint project teams will be able to use them as investigational tools to help answer scientific questions about human disease – which in turn could provide starting points for the development of next-generation treatments.
The initiative aims to support up to ten experimental medicine projects over the five-year period.
We believe that by sharing our resources and research during the early stages of research we can stimulate innovation within the scientific community
The academic research teams that are awarded funding by the MRC will work alongside their industry colleagues at both GSK and university facilities, with a view to building a legacy of expertise in translational and experimental human research across academia and industry. It is anticipated that the network will grow beyond the first five academic partners.
Information and new discoveries will be communicated across the network, and beyond, in a spirit of open innovation. This will help enable breakthroughs in understanding to be applied across a spectrum of diseases, maximising the potential of the initiative to bring real benefits to patients.
Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive at the Medical Research Council, said: 'Despite major progress made over the last 20 years in many disease areas, some hard-to-treat conditions still carry high morbidity and mortality. Addressing these challenges successfully requires close, flexible, collaboration across a range of disciplines with complementary methodological expertise and disease understanding which is why initiatives such as this are so important to the MRC. We believe this innovative approach could be applied in other areas to combine the work of academia and industry.'
GSK’s President of Pharmaceuticals R&D, Patrick Vallance, added: 'At GSK, we believe that alongside the cutting-edge research our own scientists are leading, we also have much to learn from researchers outside our walls. We believe that by sharing our resources and research during the early stages of research we can stimulate innovation within the scientific community, strengthen our understanding of human disease and accelerate the development of new treatments for patients. We need to embrace opportunities to work together and share information about our successes and failures.'
An independent panel of experts will assess the applications submitted by EMINENT collaborators. Projects will be assessed against the same criteria as any other MRC-funded research, based on the quality of the science.