GSK Reveals New Collaboration on Genomics and Big Data

Mar 26, 2014
A public-private research initiative between GSK, the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute aims to harness the power of 'big data' and genome sequencing to improve the success rate for discovering new medicines. The group has set up the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation (CTTV) to address a wide range of human diseases, and promises to share its data openly in the interests of accelerating drug discovery.

The CTTV plans to use advances in genetic research to help researchers in the first step in exploring new medicines: finding where to start. Target validation is about clearly defining the role that a biological process plays in disease before developing a new drug to tackle it, and currently an estimated 90% of compounds entering clinical trials fail to demonstrate the necessary efficacy and safety requirements, never reaching patients as medicines, according to CTTV. This is often because the biological target for a drug is not well understood.

"The CTTV is a transformative collaboration to improve the process of discovering new medicines," noted Dr. Ewan Birney, Associate Director and Senior Scientist at EMBL-EBI, who is Interim Head of the CTTV. "The pre-competitive nature of the center is critical: the collaboration of EMBL-EBI and the Sanger Institute with GSK allows us to make the most of commercial R&D practice, but the data and information will be available to everyone. It is truly exciting to apply so many different areas of expertise, from data integration to genomics, to the challenge of creating better medicines."

CTTV scientists will combine their expertise to explore and interpret large volumes of data from genomics, proteomics, chemistry and disease biology. The new approach is designed to complement existing methods of target validation, including analysis of published research on known biological processes, preclinical animal modeling and studying disease epidemiology. The CTTV will be supported by up to 50 researchers drawn from the three founding organizations and will be based on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, near Cambridge, U.K.

"Target validation is one of the greatest challenges in drug discovery. We need to understand better the mechanisms in our body related to disease to improve how we can develop the most effective medicines,” said Patrick Vallance, President of Pharmaceuticals R&D at GSK. "By changing our business model, taking a more open-minded approach to sharing information and forging collaborations like the CTTV, we believe there is an opportunity to accelerate the development of innovative new medicines.”
Read the full release here.
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