British bioscience booster shot

GSK, Univ. of Manchester ally to bridge research gaps in U.K.

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LONDON—Seeking to bolster drug discovery efforts within their own walls as well across the U.K., British pharma GlaxoSmithKline and England's University of Manchester have formed a research alliance that will accelerate their existing research partnerships and eliminate experimental and transitional hurdles for their compatriots.

With a common focus on translational or "bench to bedside" medical research, the two organizations hope to leverage GSK's drug discovery expertise and build on the university's strong base in bioscience to accelerate their own research efforts, combine research funding bid approaches, bypass research obstacles and identify areas of pro-competitive research for the British pharmaceutical industry.

GSK and the University of Manchester have collaborated substantially in the past, with a concentration on respiratory medicine, systems biology, gastrointestinal medicine and inflammation. With the new alliance, the two parties will focus initially on inflammatory processes and then pursue research methodologies such as systems biology and biomedical imaging and treatment areas such as respiratory disease, says Dr. Mike Musialowski, business development manager in the university's Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences.

"It is anticipated that a strategic approach, encompassing the complementary research strengths of GSK and the university, will be synergistic in its research outcomes," Musialowski says. "The initial area for concerted alliance activity is likely to be in the area of inflammatory processes. There exists an opportunity within this area to combine the university's experience in solving fundamental questions in the mechanisms of inflammation with GSK's strength in identifying and understanding therapeutic targets. This combination is expected to substantially accelerate progress in this area."

GSK declined to comment on the research alliance. Patrick Valliance, senior vice president for Discovery Research, said in a statement that the partnership will formalize GSK's link with the university, which has invested heavily in its scientific capabilities in recent years. GSK funding of university research activity frequently exceeds £3 million in total research funding at any one time, according to the university.

"It is now a world-class institution, with first-rate biomedical science capabilities of the caliber that GSK welcomes forming an alliance with," Valliance said in a statement.
The collaboration seeks to help bypass current experimental and translational hurdles, Musialowski says.

"A closer working relationship with a global leader in pharmaceutical research enables the University of Manchester to take a better informed view of issues affecting translational research in medicine," Musialowski says. "The link between GSK and one of the UK's leading collaborative universities will result in an easier day-to-day exchange of knowledge and ideas."

Ultimately, the partnership will also be a key factor in facilitating greater access to industry-sponsored research initiatives, Musialowski says.
"Working closely with GSK will be of critical benefit to those researchers seeking to make difficult translational steps in their healthcare research programs, ultimately driving the benefits of basic research closer to solutions for the patient," he says. "It is also anticipated that close cooperation will help bridge the skills gaps that exist within the UK industry base, given GSK's expertise in drug development and the university's strong base in basic bioscience, and influence the development of new and ambitious research programs." DDN

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