10 years and $100M-plus lat­er, GSK shut­ters a Chi­na R&D site dur­ing a ma­jor pipeline over­haul

Mon­cef Slaoui

A decade ago, then GSK R&D chief Mon­cef Slaoui proud­ly un­veiled a $100 mil­lion plan to build a big neu­ro­sciences re­search group in Shang­hai. The project called for hir­ing 1,000 sci­en­tists in six years as the phar­ma gi­ant sought to make ma­jor ad­vances on Alzheimer’s, Parkin­son’s and MS.

“We don’t want to give them the crumbs,” Slaoui told the Fi­nan­cial Times, point­ed­ly re­ject­ing the no­tion that cheap la­bor had led them to the move. “It’s about dif­fer­ent sci­ence. We will link our fate to their fate. With­in five to ten years we will be mov­ing from ‘made in Chi­na’ to ‘dis­cov­ered in Chi­na’.”

To­day, GSK let it be known that they are mov­ing on to “pulling out of Chi­na.”

The rest of the R&D team will stay in Shang­hai, says a spokesper­son for the com­pa­ny, but its neu­ro­sciences work — or what re­mains of it — will go to its Philadel­phia-area hub.

GSK de­clined to tell me how many of its once-planned 1,000 hires are be­ing laid off. Here’s the bare­bones state­ment.

Fol­low­ing a port­fo­lio re­view and pri­or­i­ti­za­tion, GSK has de­cid­ed to close its Neu­ro­science R&D Cen­ter in Shang­hai and move key pro­grams to its glob­al R&D hub in Up­per Prov­i­dence (just out­side Philadel­phia), where they will ben­e­fit from co-lo­ca­tion with oth­er pipeline R&D pro­grams.

The Chi­na R&D de­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion will con­tin­ue to be based in Shang­hai and is set to ex­pand over the next two years to ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of new med­i­cines. We re­main com­mit­ted to Chi­na and will fo­cus our R&D ef­forts in Chi­na on the needs of Chi­na, at both our Shang­hai site and our In­sti­tute for In­fec­tious Dis­eases and Pub­lic Health in Be­jing.

The big ques­tion was why GSK took so long. Once a big play­er in neu­ro­sciences, for­mer CEO An­drew Wit­ty sig­naled a ma­jor re­treat from the field in 2011 – though ex­ecs stout­ly in­sist­ed for years that it nev­er ex­it­ed.

Em­ma Walm­s­ley

GSK is now un­der­go­ing a ma­jor pipeline re­vamp, with new CEO Em­ma Walm­s­ley look­ing to add on­col­o­gy and au­to-in­flam­ma­to­ry con­di­tions to a pipeline al­ready dom­i­nat­ed by HIV/in­fec­tious dis­eases and res­pi­ra­to­ry con­di­tions. Neu­ro­sciences can be found at the very end of its pipeline chart, rep­re­sent­ed by a sin­gle project.

GSK has been un­der­go­ing mul­ti­ple rounds of R&D re­or­ga­ni­za­tions over the last few years. With no em­pha­sis on R&D in the neu­ro­sciences field and the phar­ma gi­ant ex­it­ing rare dis­eases as it chops 30 pro­grams, there’s no guar­an­tee you’ll ever hear of it again.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

By Natasha Cowan, Content Marketing Manager at Blue Latitude Health.
Many stakeholders are confused by novel precision medicines, including patients and healthcare professionals. So, how can industry help them to navigate this complexity?

Precision medicine represents a new paradigm in healthcare. It embodies the shift from treating many patients with the same therapy, to having the tools to identify the best treatment for every patient.

Mer­ck buys a fledg­ling neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive biotech spawned by an old GSK dis­cov­ery al­liance. What’s up with that?

Avalon Ventures chief Jay Lichter has a well-known yen for drug development programs picked up in academia. And what he found in Haoxing Xu’s lab at the University of Michigan pricked his interest enough to launch one of his umbrella biotechs in San Diego.
Xu’s work laid the foundation for Avalon to launch Calporta, which has been working on finding small molecule agonists of TRPML1 (transient receptor potential cation channel, mucolipin subfamily, member 1) for lysosomal storage disorders. And that pathway, they believe, points to new approaches on major market neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

In­vestors could emerge from Neil Wood­ford de­ba­cle with £1B loss, in­ter­nal analy­sis re­veals

When Link Fund Solutions announced that it is closing Woodford Equity Income Fund permanently and kicking out Neil Woodford, it was implied that investors probably won’t get back everything they entrusted to the fund manager. But nobody knew just how much they would lose.

An internal analysis commissioned by Link suggested that the collective loss could amount to £1 billion — out of a fund last valued at £3.1 billion — Citywire has revealed.

GSK's asth­ma bi­o­log­ic Nu­cala scores in rare blood dis­or­der study

GlaxoSmithKline’s asthma drug Nucala, which received a resounding FDA rejection for use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) last year, has shown promise in a rare blood disorder.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Spe­cial re­port: Twen­ty ex­tra­or­di­nary women in bio­phar­ma R&D who worked their way to the top

What differentiates a woman leader in biopharma R&D from a man?

Not much, except there are fewer of them in senior posts. Data suggest women are not more risk-averse, family-oriented or less confident than their male counterparts — indeed the differences between the two sexes are negligible. But a glance at the top R&D positions in Big Pharma leaves little doubt that upward migration in the executive ranks of biopharma R&D is tough.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA Vas­cepa re­view spot­lights new safe­ty sig­nals, pos­si­ble min­er­al oil spoil­er as Amarin hunts a block­buster ap­proval

An in-house FDA review of Amarin’s Vascepa raises a set of hurdles the biotech will have to clear if the biotech expects to get the long-awaited FDA approval that could set it on a path to superstar status. But it appears that Amarin has survived another potential setback without introducing a major new threat to its prospects.

The stakes don’t get much higher, with analysts saying a win this week for Amarin could lead to billions in new sales — provided the agency stamps it with an OK. And investors liked what they say in the FDA review this morning, bumping the stock $AMRN 17%.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA puts Sol­id Bio’s lead gene ther­a­py pro­gram on hold — again — af­ter an­oth­er pa­tient is hurt by SGT-001

Solid Biosciences continues to be plagued by safety issues.

Close to 18 months after the gene therapy biotech was able to quickly shed an FDA hold on their lead Duchenne muscular dystrophy program for SGT-001, regulators have stepped back in to force another halt after another patient was hit hard by a set of serious adverse events remarkably similar to the first set.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 65,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

FDA slaps a hold on an AML tri­al as Mark­er scraps a fail­ing ovar­i­an can­cer pro­gram, sink­ing shares

The FDA has placed a hold on a Phase II AML trial from the small immuno-oncology biotech Marker Therapeutics. Marker disclosed the issue two weeks after responding to FDA concerns, adding it to the Q3 release Tuesday. The company also announced it was scrapping a Phase II ovarian cancer program it determined was unlikely to succeed.

The agency’s concern centers around two reagents used in manufacturing for their trial for acute myeloid leukemia patients who have received a stem cell transplant. The reagents are from third parties and not present in the final product, Marker said.

Eli Lil­ly-backed biotech grabs $100M to dis­patch an­ti­body-oligonu­cleotide con­ju­gates af­ter mus­cu­lar dy­s­tro­phy

Hold up your hand. Make a fist. Now open it. And again.

If you can do it fully and with ease, then the proteins in your hand are likely working properly. If you can’t then they may not be. In people with myotonic muscular dystrophy, something more atomic is going on.

In those folks, the problem is RNA. Certain base pairs repeat far beyond normal, up to 11,000 superfluous letters in some cases. The extended strands form “clumps.” Proteins misform and can’t function properly. They often allow one movement but not the reverse, a condition called myotonia that gives the dystrophy its name.