Case Study: Research and Development

An Open Approach to Tackling Diseases of the Developing World, GlaxoSmithKline


To encourage innovation targeting diseases of the developing world, where scientific advances have been limited and there is not the same potential commercial return as in developed countries, GSK has fundamentally changed the way we think about intellectual property and the way we work with others.

Our open innovation strategy is designed to promote change beyond GSK by sharing expertise, resources, intellectual property and know-how with external researchers and the scientific community. This includes:

  • sharing our expertise and resources with scientists from around the world by enabling them to conduct their research projects in the open lab at our Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus which is focussed on discovering new medicines in diseases of the developing world
  • being more flexible with intellectual propert and know-how, including helping to establish the Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases (POINT) to which we contributed patents and patent applications, and through WIPO Re:Search
  • being more open with our data and DDW research to help stimulate research outside GSK.

Lessons Learned

Through regular dialogue with the scientific community investigating diseases of the developing world we look to identify opportunities to develop our open innovation strategy that will ultimately benefit patients.

We have learned that collaborative approaches take time to create but are worth the investment in time and energy. This is demonstrated through the creation of WIPO Re:Search developing from POINT.

The majority of projects at the Open Lab are supported by the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit organisation established with £5 million in funding from GSK. In 2012, two years after the Foundation was set up, GSK committed another £5 million to the Foundation.

In 2013 we committed to adapt our open innovation R&D model to apply to other areas of great unmet medical need and scientific challenge, including infectious disease and Alzheimer’s disease. We have committed to do this by 2015.

Results to Date

  • In 2010, we screened GSK’s entire pharmaceutical compound library of more than two million compounds for any that may inhibit malaria, resulting in publication of over 13,500 hits made available to the scientific community.
  • Approximately 200 of these compounds have been included in the ‘malaria box’ created by our research partner Medicines for Malaria Venture. The malaria box is a set of 400 compounds with anti-malarial activity that has been shared with 120 research groups around the world.
  • In 2012, a screen of our compound library identified 177 promising hits that could act as starting points for the discovery of new medicines for tuberculosis. These were also made available to the scientific community to further research in this area.
  • Our Open Lab at Tres Cantos has hosted more than 29 visiting scientists to date, with 8 projects complete and 11 projects currently active across malaria, tuberculosis and kinetoplastid disease areas. A further 10 projects are approved to start in 2013.
  • In 2009 we helped to establish the Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases (POINT) to which we contributed patents and patent applications. POINT has now been rolled into WIPO Re:Search.
  • In 2012 we shared information and insights through the WIPO Re:Search programme with the Centre for World Health and Medicine about our work on MetAp-1 inhibitors for tuberculosis. This saved the Centre an estimated $50,000 and its scientists three months of work.

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