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Professor Andew Lever Wins GSK’s Discovery Fast Track Challenge

last modified Dec 05, 2014 09:31 AM
Professor Andew Lever Wins GSK’s Discovery Fast Track Challenge

Professor Andrew Lever, Department of Medicine

We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the partners for GSK. Our work on HIV is the result of many years of contributions by scientists in my group. We believe that this is the first time that the RNA of a virus has been the target of a screen for antiviral drugs by a large company such as GSK and it is a part of the HIV lifecycle for which currently there are no licensed therapeutics. It is a great opportunity to translate basic research into a valuable therapeutic.

Professor Andrew Lever, Department of Medicine

Professor Andrew Lever, from the Department of Medicine has been selected as a winner of GSK’s 2014 Discovery Fast Track Challenge, which is designed to accelerate the translation of academic research into novel therapies. Professor Andrew Lever will work with scientists in GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) and the Molecular Discovery Research teams to test their hypotheses and screen targets against GSK’s compound collection.  Active compounds could then form the basis of full drug discovery programmes that may ultimately lead to innovative medicines for a new therapeutic paradigm for an antiviral agent against HIV. 

Professor Lever submitted one of 14 winning proposals, chosen from 428 entries from 234 universities and academic institutes from across 26 countries. Research between University of Cambridge and GSK will focus on screening the GSK therapeutic molecule library to find inhibitors which prevent packaging of the HIV genome inside the virus particle. This is an area of research which Professor Lever’s group has pursued over a number of years since first identifying the critical viral RNA sequence and then solving its structure. Recent work has involved collaborations with Professors Dave Klenerman and Shankar Balasubramanian in the Department of Chemistry

“We believe there is a real advantage in bringing together the best in academia and industry to help take innovative ideas forward in drug discovery,” said Duncan Holmes, European Head of DPAc. “The Discovery Fast Track Challenge is designed to find the best ideas for collaborative drug discovery from any therapeutic area, in any geography. We look forward to working with each of the winners to help identify novel quality pharmacologically active compounds for their targets and being part of the researcher’s journey in making a difference."

Launched in the UK in late 2010, DPAc is a new approach to drug discovery that enables academics to marry their scientific excellence with the drug discovery insight of GSK.  For Discovery Fast Track projects that progress to full DPAc programmes, GSK and the academic collaborator share the challenges and rewards of innovation; GSK provides drug discovery expertise and in-kind resources as well as funding activities in the  partner laboratories to progress a programme from idea to candidate medicine. Currently GSK has 10 active DPAc collaborations in 10 disease areas.