East Midlands life sciences researchers and GSK launch medicines discovery collaboration for lung disease

Posted by ap507 at Feb 19, 2018 11:56 AM |
The Universities of Leicester and Nottingham have announced a new strategic research collaboration with GSK

Issued by University of Leicester on 19 February 2018

The Universities of Leicester and Nottingham have announced a new strategic research collaboration with GSK, using genetics to aid the development of new medicines for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and related airway disorders. The £1.24m investment over three years provides an East Midlands-focused boost to the Life Sciences Sector Deal of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy.

COPD affects around 65 million people worldwide, including 1.2 million people in the UK. It is a debilitating disease that causes narrowing of the airways leading to breathlessness and a greatly reduced quality of life. Smoking is a strong risk factor for COPD, but not all people affected by COPD are smokers and not all smokers develop the disease. In addition, amongst those who already have COPD, there is variation in severity of disease and how quickly the disease progresses. 

Scientists at the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham will combine large-scale computational analyses and laboratory experiments to understand the genetic and biological reasons why some people with COPD experience frequent exacerbations and/or different rates of disease progression. The research will provide valuable insight into disease pathology and, by working in partnership with scientists at GSK who will provide their drug discovery expertise, will accelerate discovery and development of innovative treatments for COPD and related airway diseases.

This collaboration unites the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) of Leicester and Nottingham – partnerships between their respective universities, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust and Leicester’s Hospitals - and the Leicester Precision Medicine Institute. The purpose of the NIHR BRCs is to take scientific discoveries and translate them into treatments and care pathways for the direct benefit of patients. The Leicester Precision Medicine Institute provides university, NHS and industry expertise in medicines discovery and better targeting of treatment to improve health.

Professor Louise Wain, British Lung Foundation Chair in Respiratory Research at the University of Leicester said: “We know that genetics plays an important role in determining who will develop COPD but we don’t yet understand why there is such variation in how severe the disease can be and why some people experience a more rapid worsening of symptoms than others. We’re excited to combine the translational research strengths of the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham, with those of GSK to benefit people living with COPD.”

Professor Ian Hall, Director at the NIHR Nottingham BRC said, “I am delighted that our research group in Nottingham and the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre is a partner in this collaboration which builds on extensive existing links between Leicester and Nottingham and excellent discovery science at GSK.  Collaborations such as this, where each partner brings unique strengths to the research programme, are essential to drive forwards the drug discovery process to help identify the best individualised treatment options for patients with lung conditions such as COPD.”

Professor Chris Brightling, NIHR Senior Investigator and Respiratory theme lead at the NIHR Leicester BRC said: “By pooling the expertise in respiratory research of Leicester and Nottingham Biomedical Research Centres with scientists at GSK, we have an exciting opportunity to learn more about the genetics behind why two patients with COPD do not display exactly the same symptoms, their illnesses do not worsen at the same rate, nor respond to treatments in the same way. This insight will allow us to discover and develop new treatments for COPD in the future that will be better tailored to meet the needs of individual patients and improve their quality of life.” 

Dave Allen, Head, Respiratory Therapy Area, R&D, GSK, said:  “We have been developing respiratory medicines for almost 50 years and continue to be committed to increasing our understanding of diseases like COPD. Advances in genomics, computational science and cellular biology have great potential to increase disease understanding, and hence bring benefit to patients by the development of innovative medicines and better understanding of how to use existing medicines. Realising this potential needs academic and industry researchers to work together and we are pleased to continue our investment in UK-based research by working with two renowned UK academic institutes.” 


For more information, to arrange an interview or for photographs:
Rachael Dowling, Research Communications Manager
0116 258 4971

NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is a partnership between University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University. It is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The NIHR Leicester BRC undertakes translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need. These include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and lifestyle, obesity and physical activity. There is also a cross-cutting theme for precision medicine. The BRC harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop ways to help prevent and treat chronic disease. It brings together 70 highly skilled researchers, 30 of which are at the forefront of clinical services delivery. By having scientists working closely with clinicians, the BRC can deliver research that is relevant to patients and the professionals who treat them. www.leicesterbrc.nihr.ac.uk  

NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre 

The NIHR Nottingham BRC supports translational research across five disease based themes: respiratory medicine; gastrointestinal and liver disease; mental health and technology; hearing and musculoskeletal disease.  There is also a cross cutting theme on imaging which links closely to the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre in the University of Nottingham.  Professor Ian Hall is the Director of the NIHR Nottingham BRC .

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): improving the health and wealth of the nation through research.

Established by the Department of Health and Social Care, the NIHR:
- Funds high quality research to improve health
- Trains and supports health researchers
- Provides world-class research facilities
- Works with the life sciences industry and charities to benefit all
- Involves patients and the public at every step
For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk

Leicester Precision Medicine Institute unites the research expertise and facilities of the University of Leicester and University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust with industry to provide new discoveries and medical innovations that improve healthcare. For further information visit https://www2.le.ac.uk/institutes/lpmi  or contact LPMI@le.ac.uk









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