Five leading pharmaceutical companies are supplying £10.8 million in new funding for the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy, a collaboration with 13 research teams based at the University of Dundee that aims to attack major global diseases.

AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck KGaA will provide the cash over the next four years, which will secure 50 jobs in Dundee. The DSTT, which was founded in 1998, has attracted funding of £23 million since then and is believed to be the largest collaboration between the UK academic community and the pharmaceutical industry.

One of the co-directors of the DSTT, Sir Philip Cohen, said that such collaborations typically last a few years, therefore to maintain and expand support until 2012 “when three of the participating companies will have been funding the DSTT for 14 years, is unprecedented – we must be doing something right". Another co-director, Dario Alessi, said the expanded agreement “will enable us to translate our recent research findings and ideas into potential new drug therapies for the treatment of cancer, hypertension and Parkinson’s disease."

Speaking on behalf of the drugmakers, GSK’s Malcolm Skingle said this has been “a very successful collaboration over the past ten years and we are delighted to see it continue”. He added that the project has “shown the benefits that can come from pharmaceutical companies like ourselves working hand-in-hand with top flight research”.

The University of Dundee and the associated Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit comprise the world’s largest centre for the study of kinases and phosphatases, they say, with nearly 200 scientific and support staff working in the area.