UK drug giant GlaxoSmithKline has received a cash injection of £5 million from the Wellcome Trust to help advance some of its early-stage projects focusing on finding treatments for diseases largely affecting the developing world.

The Wellcome Trust's £5-million Seeding Drug Discovery award will support the firm's "open approach" to discovering and developing urgently needed new treatments for diseases of low-income countries.

The funding will push early-stage research into treatments for diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness to the next level, as scientists from around the world will work alongside GSK drug discovery experts at its Open Lab facility in Madrid, Spain, with a view to developing two high-quality experimental drugs over the next five years.

"Academic researchers are making incredible progress in our understanding of neglected diseases, yet we've still got a bottleneck when it comes to the development of new drugs," said Richard Seabrook, Head of Business Development at the Wellcome Trust. 

"Taking a more collaborative approach, as GSK have through their Open Lab, will see these advances reap the full benefit of the industry's commercial expertise to give us the best chance of securing new treatments for these devastating diseases," he added.

"This support highlights a growing recognition that collaborative and open research is the key to tackling these devastating diseases," commented Nick Cammack, Head of GSK's Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus, which houses the Open Lab.

Most early-stage research collaborations currently underway at GSK’s Open Lab are funded by the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation – an independent charity established by the firm in 2010 with £5 million seed funding. 

GSK doubled this funding to a total of £10 million last year, and it is hoped that with this, and other donations, a sustainable flow of around 10 high quality early-stage drug discovery projects will be maintained at Lab in the coming years, the drugmaker said.

GSK gets £5m grant from Wellcome Trust