GlaxoSmithKline, the Medical Research Council and UK academia are working together on a unique open innovation research initiative which strives to improve understanding of inflammatory diseases in the hope of paving the way for new treatments.

Teams of scientists from the Universities of Cambridge, Glasgow, Newcastle, Imperial College London and University College London will work with researchers from GSK in the Experimental Medicine Initiative to Explore New Therapies (EMINENT) network, to uncover the fundamental biological mechanisms behind a variety of inflammatory diseases. 

It is hoped that a better understanding of the inflammatory process in diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and fibrosis will help boost the success rate for discovering new potential treatments for these and other diseases. 

The MRC is offering up £8 million over five years to support academic costs, which will be matched with GSK in-kind contributions, including access to a portfolio of currently available medicines, experimental compounds, screening facilities and its drug discovery and development in-house expertise. 

The initiative aims to support up to ten experimental medicine projects over the five-year period. 

GSK first industry partner to Crick

Meanwhile, GSK also announced an open innovation alliance with The Francis Crick Institute, the UK’s newest biomedical research facility, to explore new avenues of research and drug discovery across a broad range of diseases.

The collaboration will combine Crick’s specialised disease biology knowledge with GSK’s pharmaceutical R&D expertise, which the groups hope will open up possibilities for scientific discovery that would not be possible through working in isolation.

The teams will carry out biological research projects to learn more about how diseases take hold in the body and how they could best be treated, which is expected to result in increased efficiency and reduced attrition in R&D.