GSK to Tackle Third World Diseases

20 January 2010 (Last Updated January 20th, 2010 18:30)

GlaxoSmithKline has announced a series of new initiatives targeted at transforming the company's approach to diseases that disproportionately affect the world's poorest countries. GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said that GSK has the capability to make a difference and a genuine appetit

GlaxoSmithKline has announced a series of new initiatives targeted at transforming the company's approach to diseases that disproportionately affect the world's poorest countries.

GSK chief executive Andrew Witty said that GSK has the capability to make a difference and a genuine appetite to change the landscape of healthcare for the world's poorest people.

These include the establishment of an $8m "Open Lab" in which up to 60 scientists from across the world will be able to use GSK's expertise, knowledge and infrastructure, while pursuing their own projects as part of an integrated drug discovery team.

GSK will also make access to new malaria compounds freely available, after a year-long project to scan the company's 2 million molecule strong library yielded 13,500 compounds that could lead to the development of new and innovative treatments.

GSK will make these findings, including the chemical structures and associated assay data freely available to the public, marking the first time a pharmaceutical company has done so to help find a malaria cure.

The company is also creating a series of new collaborations to share intellectual property for neglected tropical diseases by creating a "knowledge pool" for neglected tropical diseases, which will be taken over by an independent third party, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH).

GSK and BVGH have also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery (EIDD) to join the pool and further open up knowledge, chemical libraries and other assets in the search for new medicines.

A second collaboration has also been established with South African firm iThemba Pharmaceuticals to help research and discovery into new medicines to treat tuberculosis.

GSK also made a pledge to create a sustainable pricing model for the world's most advanced malaria candidate vaccin. RTS,S is in pivotal Phase III trials across seven African countries.

The pricing model will cover the cost of the vaccine together with a small return, which will be fully reinvested into research and development for second-generation malaria vaccines, or vaccines for other neglected tropical diseases.

Lastly, GSK has also awarded four new grants worth $2.5m through the GSK African Malaria Partnership to Family Health International in Ghana, African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) projects in Tanzania, Planned Parenthood Foundation of Nigeria and the Save the Children project in Kenya.