GlaxoSmithKline in California Drug Discovery Pact

  • Jennifer Doudna and Jonathan Weissman are the key players in a new collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to apply CRISPR techniques to the discovery of new drug targets, potentially leading to new therapies for genetic diseases. (Barbara Ries photo courtesy of UCSF)Jennifer Doudna and Jonathan Weissman are the key players in a new collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to apply CRISPR techniques to the discovery of new drug targets, potentially leading to new therapies for genetic diseases. (Barbara Ries photo courtesy of UCSF)

GlaxoSmithKline has entered a five-year collaboration with the University of California (UC) to establish a laboratory for CRISPR technologies, the Laboratory for Genomics Research (LGR).

In the new facility, the British drugmaker and university researchers will explore how gene mutations cause disease and develop new technologies, using CRISPR to rapidly accelerate the discovery of new medicines.

The most powerful tool in functional genomics, CRISPR permits a small changes in a person’s genetic make-up that can increase the risk of diseases this to be discovered at a scale once thought impossible, GSK said.

According to the company, the lab based near the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco is a novel hybrid model bringing together industrial and academic researchers under a single roof. Its teams will work both together and independently toward the goal of finding new drug targets and biological mechanisms that will foster both academic and industrial advances.

The project focused on immunology, oncology and neuroscience will receive up to $67 million in funding over the five-year period. The premises will include facilities for 24 full-time university employees funded by GSK, plus up to 14 full-time GSK employees. The drugmaker’s artificial intelligence and machine learning group will also be involved.

A joint Steering Committee with equitable university and GSK representation will govern the collaboration, and additional joint sub-committees will cover patents, scientific and project management. In keeping with UC’s public mission, the tools that are developed in the lab will be described in published papers.

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