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GSK, Yale partner to develop new drugs targeting disease-causing proteins

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) hopes to develop a new class of medicines through a new drug discovery partnership with Yale University. The collaboration will build on Yale’s research into ways to break down disease-causing proteins. The technology, called proteolysis-targeting chimeric molecules or PROTACs, leads disease-causing proteins to the part of a cell where they can be destroyed. […]

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) hopes to develop a new class of medicines through a new drug discovery partnership with Yale University.

The collaboration will build on Yale’s research into ways to break down disease-causing proteins. The technology, called proteolysis-targeting chimeric molecules or PROTACs, leads disease-causing proteins to the part of a cell where they can be destroyed. GSK says high levels of these proteins can drive disease in oncology, inflammation and infection, but they cannot be addressed by traditional drug-making methods.

GSK and Yale will work together to determine whether PROTACs can be developed into new drugs. The effort will be led by Kris Famm, head of GSK’s protein degradation team, joined by Craig Crews, a Yale professor of molecular, cellular and development biology, and also a professor of chemistry and pharmacology. Famm said the partnership could help new therapies move from the academic lab to the early stage drug pipeline more quickly.

“The groundbreaking 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, and it is exciting to work together to try to realize that promise,” Famm said in a statement.

GSK is staffing the joint team with its scientists who have been reassigned from internal research efforts that have been discontinued at the British pharmaceutical company. GSK’s discovery performance units, or DPUs, are intended to work like small and agile biotech companies. The units must make progress to justify further financing. After a DPU review last year, some of those efforts weren’t making sufficient progress to continue and the scientists have been reassigned to other initiatives, including the Yale research. GSK said that the Yale collaboration “reinforces GSK R&D’s emphasis on seeking out the best science, wherever it may be, and collaborating with external partners.”

GSK has previously worked with United Kingdom-based universities in partnerships characterized by shared risk and milestones. GSK said that the Yale partnership is different because it could develop a new class of medicines.

The agreement gives GSK rights to use the technology to address disease-causing proteins across all therapy areas. Yale stands to gain milestone payments and royalties for each new drug discovered and developed from the partnership.

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