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GSK Holds Challenge for Academic Drug Discovery Partners

Beakers and test tubes (Horia Varlan/Flickr)The global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is holding a competition for academic partners to conduct drug discovery research, with the winners receiving an opportunity to develop the therapy with the company. The Discovery Fast Track program aims to speed up the drug discovery process and is open to academic researchers in the U.S. and Canada.

GSK says researchers should outline their proposals in one page with a clear hypothesis identifying therapeutic targets or pathways, as well as assay protocols and reagents. Research proposals should also describe the investigators’ expertise and display knowledge of the pharmacology underlying their ideas. Registration for the challenge closes on 19 July 2013.

Discovery Fast Track is designed to side-step extended contract negotiations that the company says is the biggest bottleneck in collaborations between universities and pharmaceutical companies. In August, a panel of experts in drug discovery and development will select 20 finalists who will be asked to submit full proposals. Winning participants will be selected in October 2013.

For researchers selected in this process, GSK will conduct a high-throughput assay that screens the proposed target against the company’s extensive compound library.The researcher and GSK will then evaluate the results, which could lead to more intensive screens, and eventually joining GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia to develop the target into a viable therapy candidate.

The company has nine current collaborations in the Discovery Partnerships with Academia program, including two institutions in the U.S. and one in Canada. The program, started in the U.K. in 2010, provides participating universities with funding to support the research and in-kind services from GSK.

Last month, GSK announced an open-innovation challenge for discovery of drugs to address the body’s neural signaling mechanisms and therapies that harness these mechanisms. Part of that initiative was a competition through InnoCentive to identify a specific disease to serve as a proof-of-principle test for potential neural signaling solutions.

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Photo: Horia Varlan/Flickr

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