GSK invests $95m to launch Altius with goal of radically changing and improving medicines development

Posted: 17 June 2015 | Victoria White

GSK is making a substantial investment to launch the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences (Altius), an independent, non-profit research institute…

GSK is making a substantial investment to launch the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences (Altius), an independent, non-profit research institute.

Altius will be pioneering new technologies and approaches for decoding how genes are controlled and how a cell’s “operating system” functions in health and disease. GSK expects to capitalise on rapid progress in understanding gene control to select and validate better drug targets, and to accelerate many key aspects of developing new medicines.

Altius will be led by Dr John A. Stamatoyannopoulos, an internationally-recognised leader in gene regulation research. Altius will be creating a research environment that couples the scientific creativity and innovation of an academic environment with previously unavailable integrated capabilities in instrumentation, automation, and computation. Altius will be wholly independent from GSK, with its own management, board of directors and external advisors.

GSK to provide over $95m to advance Altius’ research and technology efforts

GSK and Altius have signed a 10-year collaboration agreement that provides long-term support for innovative, high-impact research. During the first five years, GSK will provide over $95 million in cash and other resources to advance the Institute’s basic research and technology efforts. 

GSK’s unique collaboration with Altius will enable rapid translation of the most cutting-edge genetics research technologies to the drug discovery process. Because of poor visibility into how medicines affect the inner workings of cells and tissues, many drugs fail in late stage development, which is extremely expensive. Gaining vision into the function and control of a cell’s genes will greatly improve the probability of selecting and developing the right drug targets for the right diseases. GSK’s work with Altius is expected to result in increased efficiency and reduced attrition across R&D at GSK and could radically reshape the way drug development is conducted industry-wide.

GSK and Altius collaboration could reshape drug development industry-wide

“Dramatic breakthroughs in understanding how the human genome functions are still in their infancy in terms of how they can be applied to drug discovery, but we can see their potential to transform the process,” said Lon Cardon, Senior Vice president of Alternative Discovery and Development at GSK. “This is not an incremental change. We are aiming for transformative outcomes that could improve our ability to bring innovative and more effective new medicines to patients.”

“With this visionary investment, GSK is gaining a front-line view into the revolution now underway in understanding how cells function,” said Dr Stamatoyannopoulos.  “Innovative technologies are needed to gain a deeper understanding of how cells’ ‘operating systems’ work. Translating this understanding effectively into clinical settings and the discovery of new medicines will require wholly new approaches to combining technology, molecular biology and computation. GSK’s pioneering support will enable Altius to innovate at the forefront of gene regulation science.”