Glasgow University to join in pioneering approach to developing new medicines

The First Minister will today announce a unique international collaboration with one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies in a deal worth almost £50m to create the world's first Translational Medicine Research Collaboration in Scotland. The Collaboration will comprise four of Scotland's leading universities (Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Edinburgh), Wyeth Pharmaceutical Co, Scottish Enterprise and NHS Scotland Grampian, Greater Glasgow, Lothian and Tayside, and will provide new impetus for Scotland to lead the world in the development of personalised medicine, bringing new treatments to patients suffering from a range of serious illnesses.

Wyeth, with headquarters in Philadelphia, plans to invest an estimated £33m in the first five years with an option to extend for a further five years. Scottish Enterprise will invest up to £17.5m.

Translational Medicine is a revolutionary new approach to developing new drugs and treatments by focussing research on new tests for the diagnosis and monitoring of human diseases. These tests, called biomarkers, are new proteins or markers that can be measured in blood samples or X-rays of patients. They can then be used to follow the progress and response to the treatment of patients with diseases such as heart attacks, cancer, depression and osteoporosis.

Biomarkers can also help to develop new treatments. The Collaboration will include them in efficacy studies in Scotland working with the established network of doctors and researchers who conduct medical research to the highest ethical standards, whilst protecting patient confidentiality. These trials will facilitate the speed in getting new treatments from the laboratory to benefit patients in the clinic, with the potential to enhance patient care and treatments. It will also help develop new prescription drugs adapted to individual needs so that doctors can discover which groups of patients respond best to which medicines, enabling resources to be targeted more effectively, and making sure that the right patients get the right treatments.

The development of this exciting collaboration is a reflection of the world-class reputation for research in medicine and life sciences at the four Scottish Universities. Scotland was also hailed for the close working relationship between the Universities and the NHS in Scotland. Wyeth has an outstanding worldwide reputation in scientific research and is a recognised leader in developing drugs in a number of disease areas including cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease. Wyeth is one of the forerunners in the establishment of dedicated Translational Medicine efforts to bridge the gap between basic pre-laboratory drug discovery and drug development in the clinic. The partnership with four of Scotland's leading universities is expected to yield significant research benefits for patients.

The Collaboration model will consist of a central core Research Laboratory working with 'Centres of Excellence' in each of the four University Medical Schools. The University of Glasgow will lead in the areas of inflammation (Professor Neil Thomson) and oncology (Professor Jeff Evans), and collaborate on several other projects in the areas of neuroscience, cardiovascular medicine and women's health.

Principal, Sir Muir Russell, said: "The University of Glasgow is pleased to be a Centre of Excellence in this powerful research collaboration. The deal will ensure that Scottish patients are at the forefront of new treatments and benefit first from the latest advances in therapeutic medicine.

"Scottish University medical schools have a strong history of joint research, and established relationships with NHS partners. The added funding coming from this new collaboration will set Scotland at the forefront of this exciting new field."

The Research Laboratory will be based at Dundee, with 50 scientific jobs created in the first instance. The Research Laboratory will be a national resource and will be responsible for promoting innovative and novel scientific developments. It will link seamlessly with clinicians and scientists based in the Centres of Excellence, who will carry out specialised clinical and laboratory research into many diseases prevalent in Scotland.

The Collaboration also builds upon the development of a new Clinical Research Centre network across the four universities and the NHS in Grampian, Greater Glasgow, Lothian and Tayside, being developed by the Chief Scientist's Office at the Scottish Executive Health Department. This collaboration will ensure that Scotland consolidates its position as a leading player in the biotechnology and medical research sectors and attracts some of the world's leading research scientists to work in Scotland.

In particular the Collaboration will bring the following major advantages to Scotland:

  • The Collaboration will provide an injection of more than £50m into clinical and biomedical research in Scotland across the four universities and NHS Scotland.
  • The Collaboration will support the development of an enviable research platform in clinical drug development.
  • The Collaboration will create up to 50 jobs in the first instance at the state-of-the-art Laboratory in Dundee in the first instance, rising over 5 years to as many as 120 across the collaboration.
The Minister for Health and Community Care Andy Kerr said: 'Translational medicine research is particularly relevant to the NHS, bringing theoretical laboratory based science closer to practical applications of direct benefit to our NHS patients. It is a great example of the public and private sectors working together for mutual benefit. I am delighted that Scotland has been able to develop this pioneering approach.'

Frank Walsh, PhD, Executive Vice President, Wyeth Research welcomed the new collaboration saying, "The Translational Medicine Research Collaboration represents a truly novel concept in industry-academic-government partnership, and we are delighted to be the major pharmaceutical partner in this relationship. Translational Medicine is key to the successful development of the next generation of innovative medicines which will truly make a difference for patients the world over".

Jack Perry, Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise said, "Translational Medicine provides a major opportunity to reduce the bottlenecks in the development of new drug treatments, with significant resultant benefits in economic development and health. Scotland is in a strong position to be a centre for Translational Medicine as a result of its excellence in life sciences, culture of collaboration between the NHS and Universities, and the fantastic support that the Scottish people have demonstrated for medical research. This links with ongoing programmes of investment in its clinical infrastructure and high quality teaching hospitals. This Collaboration will harness the expertise in Scotland and Wyeth and provide the country with significant first mover advantage in a field which is projected to revolutionise the drug industry."


For further information, please contact: University Press Office: 0141 330 3535 Notes to editors

*Wyeth is one of the world's largest research-driven pharmaceutical and health care products companies. It is a leader in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, biotechnology products and non-prescription medicines that improve the quality of life for people worldwide. The Company's major divisions include Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare and Fort Dodge Animal Health. http://www.wyeth.com

More information on the other collaboration partners can be found on their web sites here:

* University of Aberdeen www.abdn.ac.uk/clsm

* University of Dundee www.dundee.ac.uk

* University of Edinburgh www.ed.ac.uk

* University of Glasgow www.gla.ac.uk

* NHS Greater Glasgow www.nhsgg.org.uk

* NHS Grampian www.nhsgrampian.org

* NHS Lothian www.show.scot.nhs.uk

* NHS Tayside www.nhstayside.scot.nhs.uk/

* Scottish Enterprise www.scottish-enterprise.com

* Scottish Development International www.scottishdevelopmentinternational.com

First published: 3 April 2006

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