GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Imagine Institute (the newly established University Hospital Institute dedicated to Orphan and Paediatric diseases - Inserm/ University Paris Descartes)  have agreed a collaborative partnership to discover and develop medicines with the potential to treat Netherton Syndrome, a rare, genetically inherited, severe skin disorder.

Under the terms of the agreement initiated and brokered by Inserm Transfert, the alliance will seek to build on the work of Prof.  Alain Hovnanian at the Necker Children Hospital in Paris following significant breakthroughs in the understanding of the underlying disease mechanisms guided by the identification of the disease gene. Work on the project will be carried out within GSK and both at the Genetics Department and Inserm unit U781, Necker Hospital, Paris. The collaboration will operate as a single integrated team, combining Prof. Hovnanian’s deep disease and biology understanding with GSK's expertise in drug discovery and development.

Netherton syndrome is one of the most severe genetic skin diseases of children and adults. No specific treatment is currently available, but the recent progress made in the disease pathogenesis allow for the development of specific new drugs targeting key biological events. These molecules have a strong therapeutic potential and are a promise for a better treatment of patients suffering from this devastating condition.
“The partnership with GSK validates the role of the research in the area of novel therapeutic targets and its underlying mechanisms in combination with highest industry standards in drug discovery.  For the patients, it also means the possibility of a novel treatment in an accelerated time frame.” says Prof. Alain Hovnanian, Professor of Genetics and of Dermatology.

This alliance is the first of GSK's Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) projects to run outside of the UK.  “At GSK we really believe that combining our drug discovery expertise with the in-depth disease knowledge of specialist academic groups can help speed up the discovery and development of new medicines”. said Pearl Huang, Global Head of DPAc. “We’re excited to be expanding this initiative outside the UK and are looking forward to working closely with the scientists at Imagine Institute, whose deep understanding of disease biology will complement our own work in this field.”

The University Hospital Institute IHU Imagine and Inserm will receive success-based financial support from GSK linked to reaching agreed milestones, as well as an undisclosed upfront payment and royalties on sales from any product that is successfully commercialized out of the collaboration.  Inserm Transfert will provide both parties with alliance management.

”It is a very innovative approach whereby both parties combine their strength in a true collaborative spirit in order to bring innovative products faster to the patient. It also shows the relevance of rare and orphan disease biology and research for drug discovery and development.” says Cécile Tharaud, CEO, Inserm Transfert.
“This very promising project illustrates perfectly the fundamentals of the Imagine Institute, bringing together complementary private and public expertises to foster therapeutic innovations and offer new life conditions to the patients and concerned families.” concludes Alain Fischer, Director of the Imagine Institute.

Date: November 13, 2012
Source: Imagine Institute