UK-based drug giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have linked arms with The University of Manchester under a unique collaboration that has created the Manchester Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research (MCCIR), a translational centre for inflammatory diseases.

With funding of £5 million from each partner over three years, the project will hook up scientists from the pharmaceutical industry and academia allowing them to work together on inflammation research and translational medicine.

GSK, AZ and The University of Manchester will together set strategic priorities for research, which, it is hoped, will ultimately translate into new and improved treatments for diseases linked with chronic inflammation, such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, that afflict millions of people around the globe.

This ground-breaking alliance could mark the beginning of a new trend which sees pharma companies working together to bolster pipelines and speed up the development of new, innovative medicines.

"The creation of the new centre is indicative of a new era of pre-competitive sharing within the pharmaceutical sector and with academic scientists, to bring our learning together to ensure the faster delivery of effective medicines to patients,” said Menelas Pangalos, Executive Vice-President Innovative Medicines at AstraZeneca.

Forefront of innovation

According to Professor Ian Jacobs, vice-president of The University of Manchester and Dean of the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, the collaboration firmly establishes both the UK and the university "at the forefront of innovative and enterprising research into inflammatory disease".

And Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts has also welcomed the move, hailing it "a fantastic example of partnership working and its potential to translate cutting-edge science into health and commercial benefits".

The MCCIR will be formally opened later this year.