GlaxoSmithKline has been speaking about its neuroscience pipeline to investors and analysts in New York, noting that it currently has more than 25 compounds in development covering 13 disease areas.

Highlights of the presentation included the firm's announcement that it intends to move the schizophrenia compound, 773812, and an Alzheimer's drug, 742457, into large-scale Phase IIb studies. GSK also noted that a Phase II programme for multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab, partnered with Denmark's Genmab, will begin in 2008 involving some 300 patients, and it also anticipates submitting 1838262 for approval in restless legs syndrome in the third quarter of next year. The drug will also enter late-stage trials for migraine prophylaxis and continue in Phase II testing for neuropathic pain and post-herpetic neuralgia in 2008, GSK added.

Moncef Slaoui, GSK's head of R&D, said the firm is making good progress with its pipeline, adding that neuroscience, alongside vaccines, oncology and biopharmaceuticals, "is a key area for additional R&D investment and future growth" for the company. "Every 72 seconds, a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease<" he noted, and "the urgency to provide medical solutions for this and other neurological diseases has never been greater”.

Dr Slaoui also said that GSK plans to spend $100 million by the end of 2008 to build a research centre in China with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, and the drugmaker is aiming to employ more than 1,000 scientists at the new facility by 2010.

GSK also noted that so far in 2007, it has gained eight key approvals, submitted eight regulatory filings and started new Phase III trials "for nine key assets". By the end of the year, it plans to submit Promacta (eltrombopag) for the short-term treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura to the US Food and Drug Administration, and expects to file its Synflorix vaccine against pneumococcal disease and otitis media with European and international regulators.