UK pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have both opened major R&D sites overseas, in Singapore and India, respectively.

GSK says it has invested $13 million to set up a new laboratory at its Center for Research in Cognitive and Neurodegenerative Disorders in Biopolis, Singapore, which will focus on discovering drugs to help cure Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. The move will double the number of researchers working at the site to around 60.

Director of the centre, Paul Chapman, noted that this new investment “will enhance our drug discovery capabilities in Singapore,” adding that “our goal is to identify a clinical development candidate by the end of 2007 and we are on track to achieving that." GSK initially spent $40 million in the facility, its first pre-clinical research facility within the Asia Pacific, when it opened two years ago.

Meantime AstraZeneca has inaugurated a state-of-the-art global process R&D laboratory (PR&D) in Bangalore, India. The facility, built at a cost of $15 million, covers 8,000 square metres on a “and can accommodate up to 75 highly-qualified process scientists, supported by office and engineering staff,” the firm said, noting that this is the firm’s fourth PR&D facility and the only one outside of Europe. The company has two PR&D facilities in the UK and one in Sweden.

Chief executive David Brennan said the move demonstrates AstraZeneca’s commitment to India “and to our team of researchers and scientists here who are dedicated to the discovery of novel therapies for developing world diseases. Facilities of this kind will leverage India’s strengths in process chemistry.” The new facility will support the company’s existing drug discovery programme at Bangalore, which is engaged in finding a cure for tuberculosis.

Sudhir Nambiar, director of PR&D for AstraZeneca India, added that “this is an exciting challenge for the skilled and dedicated Indian chemists who have already proved themselves in the generic area.”