Leicester and GSK team up for cancer research

University of Leicester researchers and GSK collaborate to discover new cancer treatments

A collaboration between the University of Leicester and global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithaKline (GSK) has been established to discover and develop novel medicines to treat aggressive forms of blood cancer.

High grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is one of the most common forms of blood cancer, with more than 5,000 new cases reported each year in the UK.

Professor Simon Wagner, from the Department of Cancer Studies, who is leading the project on behalf of the University of Leicester, said: “Currently these patients are treated with combination chemotherapy, but the 5-year survival rate of between 50 and 60 per cent shows that there is a long way to go before we can adequately manage these diseases. Amongst high-risk patient groups, particularly the elderly, outcomes are even worse partly because this population has a lower tolerance to the bone marrow toxicity associated with existing treatments. We see an urgent unmet need for new treatments that can attack the cancer, without causing this significant damage to the bone marrow.”

The new project is part of GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) initiative, which brings together the insight and creativity of world-leading academics with the drug discovery expertise of GSK to create new medicines and bring them to the clinic.

The continued recognition and new investment from GSK illustrates the strength of the drug discovery team at Leicester

The aim of the new project is to discover and develop new molecules that can make a clinical impact in the treatment of patients with high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The new collaboration builds upon a previous GSK Discovery Fast Track Challenge project, which was awarded to Professor Wagner in December 2014 and was amongst the first projects of its type to launch in Europe. 

Professor Andrew Tobin from the University of Leicester Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Director of the Leicester Drug Discovery and Diagnostics Centre which has supported the work to date said: “The continued recognition and new investment from GSK illustrates the strength of the drug discovery team at Leicester. By bringing together our cancer and structural biology specialists with the scale and experience of GSK we have been able to launch a full scale drug discovery programme from the University of Leicester aimed at delivering new treatments for a devastating cancer.”

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