Wyeth and Scots form translational medicine collaborative

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and the Health Ministry of Scotland announced recently the creation of the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC), an effort into which Wyeth is investing nearly $58.5 million.

Jeffrey Bouley
MADISON, N.J.—Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth, and the Health Ministry of Scotland announced recently the creation of the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC), an effort into which Wyeth is investing nearly $58.5 million.
In addition to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the TMRC will comprise the four major medical universities in Scotland, located in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow; Scottish Enterprise, which has invested £17 million into TMRC and is serving as the "investment vehicle" and a coordinator for the effort; and the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS), particularly the Scottish branches of the NHS.
Wyeth described translational medicine as "a new field that integrates the study of the elements of disease with the development of novel therapies and diagnostics." A critical goal of translational medicine is the identification of biomarkers within patient populations that can be used to select the best therapy for subpopulations of patients and, ultimately, for individual patients—the "holy grail" goal of personalized medicine.
Although the TMRC's work will have an impact on improving the ability of researchers to identify and develop preclinical candidates—both directly and indirectly—the overriding goal of the collaborative work is to bridge the gap between basic preclinical drug discovery and the clinic, says Dr. Frank S. Walsh, an executive vice president with Wyeth and head of Wyeth Discovery Research. As such, an important outcome of the work of the TMRC will be speedier, more efficient and more effective clinical testing of new therapies where a candidate drug is studied in smaller, better defined patient groups.
"Nonetheless, it is very clear that there are a lot of academic people that will be involved in this effort and they will be exploring a wide range of areas, and we expect that they will have some ideas about novel targets and compounds," Walsh says. "So we expect discovery work to come out of this, but it's not specifically built into the TMRC effort. Translational medicine will be a key success factor in developing the next generation of innovative medicines."
"Translational medicine provides a major opportunity to reduce the bottlenecks in the development of new drug treatments, resulting in significant benefits in economic development and health," adds Jack Perry, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise.
Walsh says this translational medicine collaboration represents not only a step in developing an emerging field but is also a novel concept in industry-academic-government partnerships in general.
"I don't know of a similar situation in which such a diverse range of different organizations have worked so closely together," he says.
The TMRC model will be based on a central core laboratory working with centers of excellence that will be based at each of the universities. That laboratory will be based at the University of Dundee. "Generally, a professor doing research would have to set up a facility in his own lab for the work," Walsh notes. "But this is a genuine collaborative approach to share information and benefit from the capacity and scale of the combined work of the organizations and the large amount of patient base studies we will be working with through data from the NHS."
At present, 81 research proposals are under consideration for the TMRC's attention, and regardless of how many are ultimately adopted, they will be spread evenly among the four of the academic institutions. Likewise, the five major health and disease areas that Wyeth is focused on in the TMRC effort—neuroscience, oncology, women's health, cardiovascular and inflammation—will be distributed equally. 

Jeffrey Bouley

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