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New solutions via collaboration

Angus Morgan

27 September, 2016

Professor John Haselden delivers his Burnet Seminar presentation

The need for collaboration and novel solutions were important themes of Professor John Haselden’s Burnet Seminar presentation, Alternative Drug Discovery in Pharma: A snapshot of diversity in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) drug discovery through collaboration.

Professor Haselden, Head of the Malaria Discovery Performance Unit for GSK Research and Development, told Burnet staff and students of GSK’s ‘alternative’ portfolio, which includes diseases of the developing world, and maternal and neonatal health.

He singled out growing resistance to artemisinin in the Thai-Cambodia border region as an example of the kind of problem that demands new malaria research perspectives and new treatments.

“The new drugs that we bring forth have to be genuinely new, with new modes of action, otherwise we’re back to square one; we will get new drugs, but they will become resistant very quickly,” Professor Haselden said.

“The way of approaching this is, as we’ve done with HIV, using combinations to get round multiple ways in which the parasite can get round that resistance, can evolve, if you like.

“Anything we bring forward has to be as a new part of a new combination, so a new mode of action … nothing as add-on therapy to existing therapy because, if we go down that route, we will fail.

“There’s no point doing that because we’ll be in the same situation again in 30 years time.”

Professor Haselden said the development of new treatments will be best achieved collaboratively.

“We need to all work together, that’s the only way this will work,” he said.

“We might have a drug, Sanofi might have a drug, Merck might have a drug, Novartis might have a drug, they all have drugs, and academics have drugs.

“We’ve got to get the right combination together from the outset and we can only do that by playing together.”

Professor Haselden highlighted a range of emerging drugs in discovery, some of which are progressing clinically, many driven by collaboration through the discovery partnership and academic collaborations program.

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