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Looking for the collaboration of a lifetime

Whilst continuing to nurture its existing collaborations, GSK is seeking new partners from academia to biotech and pharma to harness the skills and expertise of scientists and enable the creation of the next generation of vaccines.

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Jun 02, 2017
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GSK has made contributing to the improvement of global health through innovative vaccines central to its objectives. The company’s mission is built upon two pillars: a science-led approach to discovering and developing new vaccines, and a recognition that its R&D is improved by collaboration with external partners.

In pursuing the continuous innovation needed to develop vaccines that help to protect people from diseases from birth to old age, GSK Vaccines has entered into more than 180 scientific collaborations while investing £597 million in R&D in 2016.

GSK is seeking more collaborations (Box 1). As a leading vaccine developer, GSK wants to combine the skills of its 2,000 scientists at R&D sites in Rixensart (Belgium), Rockville (Maryland, USA) and Siena (Italy), with the ideas and capabilities of academic groups— including graduate and postdoctoral research pro­grams—biotechs, consortia, charities, and fellow pharmaceutical companies. Each proposal for a new scientific or technological opportunity is evaluated by experts in vaccine R&D.

GSK’s vaccine development pipeline
Global Health: GSK is working towards broad solutions aimed at protecting individuals against infectious diseases throughout their life (maternal, pediatric, adolescent, adult and elderly), wherever they live in the world.

*The name ‘Shingrix’ has not yet been approved for use by any regulatory authority
† In-license or other alliance relationship with third party

The breadth of the types of organizations GSK col­laborates with is testament to the company’s inclu­sive approach to partnerships. GSK forms strategic relationships from early-stage research to late-phase development, and deploys whichever collaborative model is best suited to delivering the right result.

GSK seeks to understand how the different perspec­tives, needs, and priorities of its network of academic, public, and industry collaborators can further vaccine R&D. GSK is instilling this spirit in the next generation of vaccinologists through the courses and opportuni­ties it provides for PhD and postdoc scholars.

The company takes a similarly inclusive approach to helping to protect people from disease. Rather than limiting itself to one area, GSK is working across fields, from maternal immunization and support for healthy aging, to anticipation of infectious disease outbreaks and approaches to counter antimicrobial resistance.

Box 1: Areas of interest for potential partnerships with GSK Vaccines R&D

Fundamental and applied immunology
Understanding host–pathogen interactions, understanding immune responses to infectious diseases and vaccines, and developing new protective antigens. New immunization strategies and technologies

 New vaccine targets
• Discovering targets for infectious diseases (bacterial and viral diseases and diseases prevalent in the developing world) and noninfectious diseases

• Developing new approaches to modulate the immune system, and understanding the mechanism of action of adjuvants

Antigen delivery
• Developing nanoparticles and virus-like particles and investigating antigen stability. Working with vectors, RNA, and new antigenpresentation platforms

Vaccine delivery
• Developing mucosal, oral, sublingual, nasal and intradermal delivery methods and devices; thermostability

New assessment technologies and analytical tools
• Miniaturizing clinical assays and making them faster and more robust, and developing quality control and assurance assays. Biomarkers and the application of systems biology to (new) readouts

New production-process technologies
• Process monitoring, process efficiency, and simpler and faster antigen production. Alternative expression systems

Future challenges

Understanding how vaccines work
• Breadth, duration, cross-protection, reactogenicity/efficacy, impact of pre-existing immunity, immunosenescence, etc.

Identifying new vaccine technologies to support: 
• Enhanced efficacy (better immunogenicity, lower reactogenicity, cross-protection, etc.)
• Simplification and acceleration (process, schedule, delivery, compliance, manufacturing, operations, etc.)
• Rapid-response vaccine platforms

Developing therapeutic vaccines against infectious diseases

Collaboration in action

GSK’s approach is evident in its list of current and historical collaborations. For the RSV Consortium in Europe (RESCEU), an Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) project, GSK has joined more than 50 teams from academia, patient groups, pharma, regulatory agen­cies, and other fields to integrate knowledge about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The breadth of the collaboration and the scale of its ambition—to develop a vaccine against a virus that can cause severe disease in the very young, the elderly, and high-risk populations, and that was associated with 66,000–199,000 deaths worldwide in children under 5 years old in 20051—are in line with GSK’s approach to vaccines.

Other alliances are smaller but similarly impact­ful. In collaboration with AERAS, GSK is cofunding a large proof-of-concept study and helping to develop a tuberculosis vaccine candidate, one of 14 candidate vaccines in its pipeline.

The many different types of collaborations in which GSK is active are testimony to its willingness to be flexible in order to achieve the best outcome.

  1. Nair, H. et al. Lancet 375, 1545–1555 (2010). 


Philippe Denoël, Head of External R&D
GSK Vaccines
Rixensart, Belgium
E-mail: vaccinespartnering@gsk.com
Website: www.gsk.com

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GSK is one of the world’s leading vaccine companies, involved in vaccine research, development and production. We have 15 vaccines in development and our broad portfolio of 39 vaccines prevent illnesses such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, typhoid, influenza and bacterial meningitis. Globally, we have more than 16,000 people working to deliver nearly 2 (1.9) million vaccines every day, to people in around 90% (172) of the world’s countries. In 2015 we distributed around 690 million doses of vaccine, over 70% of them to least developed, low and middle income countries.

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