Leukaemia and lupus research to be fast-tracked by GSK

GlaxoSmithKline

Thursday, 28 March, 2019


Leukaemia and lupus research to be fast-tracked by GSK

Researchers who have identified potential targets for new medicines for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and lupus have been announced as the Australian winners of the 2018 GSK Discovery Fast Track Challenge.

The GSK Discovery Fast Track Challenge was designed to help turn innovative research into treatments for patients faster, by fostering greater collaboration between academia and industry. Winners of the challenge are granted rare access to GSK’s state-of-the-art research resources, expertise and compound library to screen their targets to identify molecules that could potentially become new medicines.

Challenge winners Professors Tom Gonda and Richard D’Andrea, from the University of South Australia, will work together with GSK scientists to test GSK compound libraries against a target protein that plays a role in a number of different cancers. It has been shown to be critical in acute myeloid leukaemia, and the researchers believe the discovery of a molecule that could block the function of this protein could ultimately lead to new therapies.

“It’s an exciting area of research and it’s terrific to have access to the range of GSK technologies and expertise so we can use them to identify candidate drugs against our target protein,” Prof Gonda said. “This is a very promising line of enquiry in regard to new treatments, especially given AML currently has such a poor prognosis, with less than 30% of patients surviving for five years after diagnosis.”

Professor Tom Gonda (top) and Professor Richard D’Andrea (bottom).

Dr Kim Good-Jacobson, from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, has also been named a challenge winner for her work researching how to target and destroy antibody-producing cells that cause autoimmune diseases.

“For the past three years we have been working on a target that is able to recognise the antibody-producing cells that cause autoimmune diseases like lupus — our next challenge is to discover an inhibitor for it,” Dr Good-Jacobson said.

“By having access to GSK libraries, we can immediately begin screening against our target. Through this process we hope to determine a molecule that may become the basis for a drug to help patients living with lupus.”

Dr Kim Good-Jacobson.

This year’s challenge winners will also receive up to $75,000 in funding to support the collaboration from GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) program. They were selected from over 80 entries based on their potential to impact diseases where there is an unmet medical need and where patients would strongly benefit from new therapeutic interventions.

“I am delighted to congratulate our winners of this year’s Australian Challenge,” said Andrew Weekes, Medical Director for GSK Australia. “The Challenge has been extremely successful in identifying exciting new collaborative opportunities that may ultimately lead to innovative medicines to tackle unmet patient need. This program has also enhanced our ability to reach out and make contacts with leading academics.”

Top image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/vege

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