GSK development team tackles a new drug class at Yale

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Yale University have struck a deal to collaborate on a new drug class, matching a research team assembled for the task with a group of scientists who believe that they're on the trail to new therapies with a wide range of potential uses. And they plan to hustle up with proof-of-principle studies before the end of this year in a test of just how quickly one of the pharma giant's development teams can move into the clinic. 

Their focus is on proteolysis targeting chimeric molecules, or PROTAC technology, which they believe can target and dispose of disease-causing proteins. The technology holds promise in areas such as oncology, inflammation and infections.

GSK's deal with Yale is similar to other discovery pacts it's put in place with universities in the U.K. GSK gets marketing rights to what they develop while the university will be in line for milestones and royalties on any approved product. 

"This partnership is exploring a new way for promising, but unproven therapeutic approaches to jump from the academic lab more quickly into the early stage pharmaceutical pipeline," said Kris Famm, who's heading up GSK's protein degradation team, or DPU, which includes members drawn in from recently terminated development teams. They'll be working with Yale's Craig Crews and his group. "The ground-breaking 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."

A number of Big Pharma companies, including Pfizer ($PFE), have been spending hundreds of millions of dollars to establish close ties with academic researchers on their home turf. Over the last few years, as R&D productivity waned, many of the bigger companies determined that the only way they could get to the cutting edge of drug research and discovery was by heading back to college. 

- here's the press release