GlaxoSmithKline and Yale Establish Drug Discovery Collaboration to Create a New Class of Chimeric Molecules
By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 08 May 2012
GlaxoSmithKline, plc (GSK; Brentford, UK) and Yale University (New Haven, CT, USA) have initiated a drug discovery research collaboration to design a possible new class of medicines that degrade disease-causing proteins.
The collaboration combines GSK’s expertise in medicinal chemistry with Yale’s innovative research on proteolysis-targeting chimeric molecules (PROTACs). PROTAC technology guides disease-causing proteins to a cell’s “trash can,” where they can be destroyed. Mutant or higher-than normal amounts of these proteins typically fuel disease progression in areas such as oncology, inflammation, and infections; however, many cannot be tackled by conventional ways of making drugs.
Under the agreement, a joint research team will attempt to show that PROTACs can be transformed into future medicines. GSK will then have the right to use this technology for multiple disease-causing proteins across all therapy arenas. For each protein-degrading agent that is found and developed, Yale will be eligible for milestone and royalty payments. Several collaborations between GSK and UK-based universities have been reported that also involve such joint research towards common milestones, combined with an element of risk sharing by the parties. This partnership differs through its scope around a potential new class of medicines and because of its association with a US academic center.
“This partnership is exploring a new way for promising, but unproven therapeutic approaches to jump from the academic lab more quickly into the early stage pharmaceutical pipeline,” said Kris Famm, head of GSK’s protein degradation effort, who will lead the program with Dr. Craig Crews, a professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, and professor of chemistry and pharmacology at Yale. “The ground-breaking work Craig and his team have done may allow us to tackle a whole host of disease-causing proteins that were previously out of reach for medicines, and it is exciting to work together to try to realize that promise.”
The collaboration has been authorized by GSK’s discovery investment board, the panel of internal and external experts who make funding decisions on GSK’s small biotech-like discovery performance units (DPUs). The collaborative work with GSK and Yale is now underway, with the objective of showing critical proof of principle for this technology by the end of 2012. “The relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and academia is changing,” Dr. Crews concluded, “and this collaboration offers a new paradigm for how pharma companies and academic researchers can benefit from working more closely together.”