UK based pharmaceutical giant is investing in Brazil’s basic research and sustainable chemistry sector, as a means of fostering the nation’s drug innovation process. This will be executed through studies of respiratory and metabolic diseases in the fields of immunology and inflammation – all in pursuit of antibacterial-antiviral treatments
The São Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP) and GSK in November 2015 agreed to fund Centres of Excellence in Research to be established at higher education and research institutions in São Paulo State.
The first of these centres, to be established at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), will focus on the development of sustainable chemicals for use in drug discovery. The second, to be hosted by the Butantan Institute, will be dedicated to the advancement of basic research and potential development of drugs capable of satisfying currently unmet medical needs.
The centres will be funded over a ten-year period. Some R$88.4 million will be invested in establishing and maintaining the Centres of Excellence, with FAPESP and GSK sharing R$34.6 million. The remaining R$53.7 million will be invested by the host institutions over the same period.
According to Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, FAPESP’s Scientific Director: “The long-term nature of the R&D to be done jointly by GSK’s researchers and scientists at research institutions in São Paulo State will allow them to pursue ambitious goals and results with significant scientific, economic and social impacts.”
The mission of the Centre of Excellence for Research in Sustainable Chemistry, which will be hosted by UFSCar’s Chemistry Department, is to promote the development and effective use of sustainable chemistry and related technologies. It will be staffed by researchers with ongoing projects at five different public universities and collaborate with other institutions in Brazil and abroad. Headed by researcher Arlene Gonçalves Corrêa, it will seek to combine academic research, the pharmaceutical industry’s know-how, and expertise in biotechnology to surmount current challenges in organic synthesis by deploying the principles of sustainable chemistry.
Investment in the centre valued at R$23.3 million will involve the public sector in partnership with Brazilian and foreign pharmaceutical and biotech companies, manufacturers, and research institutions dedicated to human health.
The other Centre of Excellence in Research, to be hosted by the Butantan Institute, will study venoms and animal secretions as leads for developing new drug candidates, alongside purified toxins and new molecules, using next-generation tools to track, identify and validate molecular targets and signalling pathways linked to inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, as well as metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases, among others. Investment in this centre will total R$33.3 million.
Both Centres of Excellence will facilitate the development of long-term joint interdisciplinary studies with the aim of addressing complex scientific challenges of paramount importance for human health.