GSK's 2015 Discovery Fast Track Challenge Seeks Early Drug Discovery Partnerships with Academics in Europe, Canada and US

23 March 2015
London UK

GSK is encouraging academic scientists in Europe, Canada and the US to submit their novel early drug discovery research proposals for consideration in the third annual, Discovery Fast Track Challenge – a programme designed to accelerate the translation of early-stage research into game-changing new medicines. The challenge provides a new template for drug discovery as it seeks to rapidly uncover the best opportunities for discovery research.

Scientists who participate in the challenge are asked to submit details about the biological targets or pathways they are researching and the scientific rationale detailing how this early-stage research could direct future drug development. GSK will select up to 12 proposals across all regions based on the strength of the scientists’ hypotheses, originality, initial progress and the ability to deliver on an unmet medical need.

“The Discovery Fast Track Challenge is a unique opportunity to integrate the deep biological expertise found in academia with the extensive drug development knowledge of GSK,” said Carolyn Buser, Global Head of Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc), the challenge’s sponsor. “Winning ideas are translated into a high throughput screen to identify tool compounds for additional proof-of-concept studies. Pending the results and the interests from both academia and GSK, the collaboration may be extended to a long-term partnership to jointly develop therapeutics for the benefit of patients worldwide.”

Scientists whose entries are selected will collaborate with GSK’s DPAc and Molecular Discovery Research teams to test their hypotheses on potential disease pathways or targets against GSK’s extensive library of compounds. If a compound is identified during this process that shows activity against these pathways or targets, and could form the starting point for the development of a new medicine, the winning investigators could be offered a formal DPAc partnership and opportunity to work together on the development of a potential new medicine.

Since its initial launch in 2013, the annual Discovery Fast Track Challenge has attracted more than five hundred proposals from more than three hundred universities, academic research institutions and hospitals in the US, Canada and Europe. Previous entries have focused on a broad range of disease areas, including malaria, antibiotic resistance and certain types of cancer.

Launched in the UK in late 2010, DPAc is a new approach to drug discovery where academic partners become core members of drug-hunting teams. GSK and the academic partner share the risk and reward of innovation, where GSK funds activities in the partner laboratories, as well as providing in-kind resources to progress a programme from an idea to a candidate medicine. The DPAc model is now being used by GSK globally. To date, GSK has initiated 15 collaborations in 15 disease areas worldwide.

Dr. Richard Leduc, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology-Physiology at Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada – the first academic to enter Discovery Fast Track, and selected as a winner of the 2013 challenge – proposed an innovative approach for treating iron overload disorder (IOD). Screening Dr. Leduc’s biological target against GSK’s chemical libraries yielded several highly potent inhibitors. “In less than a year, we went from working on expression of the enzyme to screening for hits to discovering hits,” said Dr. Leduc. “That is pretty phenomenal. It is a true partnership.” Dr. Leduc and GSK are now actively working towards building a further partnership to develop the starting points from the screens towards a new medicine that could potentially revolutionize the treatment of patients with IOD

Registering for the challenge involves submitting a one-page summary of a novel drug discovery concept, including non-proprietary details of the biological target. An expert panel of judges from GSK will select a group of up to 30 finalists to present their proposals in person.

Registration is open from March 23 through April 24. Further details can be found at www.gsk.com/discoveryfasttrack.

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit www.gsk.com.

Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements

GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described under Item 3.D 'Risk factors' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2014.