GSK, University College team up on eye drugs

GlaxoSmithKline and the University College of London's Institute of Ophthalmology have signed a deal in which the Institute will investigate the potential of compounds provided by GSK's ophthalmic drug development unit Ophthiris.

The Institute is the largest opthalmogic research institution in the western world, according to Professor Mike Spyer, Vice Provost of Enterprise at UCL. The Institute's research capacity, coupled with London's diverse patient population, made it the best fit to advance GSK's eye disease programs. This isn't the first time GSK and the Institute have worked together. GSK has supported other activities with UCL over the years, and there's a long-standing collaboration between GSK and UCL's biochemical engineering department for bioprocessing.

"It's an extremely open-ended program," Spyer tells FierceBiotech. "GSK is providing compounds that they believe are effective. These compounds will be used in studies for macular disease, glaucoma, and a whole range of other diseases that lead to blindness."

Initially, the Institute will advance the compounds through the proof-of-concept stage. "With any compounds that show very real promise, GSK will develop the compound to the point of early stage trials, which may or may not occur at the Institute." But Spyer added that in all likelihood, Phase I studies would be conducted there.

The Institute gains dedicated staff and funding as well as a range of pharmaceutical compounds, biopharmaceuticals and reagents with which to probe ophthalmic disease mechanisms. In return, GSK will have access to the Institute's ophthalmic experience, facilities and investigators. "The deal provides facilities and resources that are available to all the members of the Institute's research staff: not just to those working on the GSK project," explains Spyer.

UCL Business will also garner undisclosed royalty payments should the research be successful in identifying a future medicine. Additionally, if any success inventions result from the deal, some Institute staff members will personally realize financial benefits. This is a non-exclusive arrangement with GSK. "The Institute has and will continue to have other non-exclusive arrangements with other large and small drug companies," said Spyer.

- here's the release for more

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