GlaxoSmithKline has partnered with the US’s Yale University to design a potential new class of medicines that could be beneficial in areas such as oncology, inflammation and infection.
The collaboration will combine GSK’s medicinal chemistry expertise with the university’s work on PROTACs, molecules that could potentially be used to degrade disease-causing proteins. PROTACs, proteolysis targeting chimeric molecules, have the ability to guide proteins to a cell’s cleaning mechanism, where they can then be destroyed.
The research team at Yale will be working to demonstrate that PROTACs can be turned into future medicines. GSK will have the right to use the technology across all therapy areas, and the university will be eligible for milestone and royalty payments for each drug that is discovered and developed. The programme will be led by Kris Famm, head of GSK’s Protein Degradation effort, and Craig Crews, Yale University’s Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental biology, and Professor of Chemistry and Pharmacology.
In a statement, Famm said, “This partnership is exploring a new way for promising, but unproven therapeutic approaches to jump from the academic lab more quickly into the early stage pharmaceutical pipeline. The ground-breaking work Craig and his team have done may allow us to tackle a whole host of disease-causing proteins that were previously out of reach for medicines.”
According to Crews, only about 20% of proteins of interest are susceptible to current drugs, with the remainder being ‘undruggable’.
The agreement with GlaxoSmithKline is not the first time that a large pharmaceutical company has taken interest in the research being conducted at Yale. Recently, the university also announced two separate collaborations with Gilead Sciences and Johnson & Johnson for novel cancer therapeutics and drug candidates, respectively.
GSK added that collaboration with academia and other external partners is a key part of the company’s growth strategy. The collaboration with Yale has been endorsed by GSK’s Discovery Investment Board, a panel of internal and external experts who make funding decisions on GSK’s small Discovery Performance Units.