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UofG Announces Research Collaboration with Lilly to Discover Potential New Drug Targets

The University of Glasgow has entered into a research collaboration with pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, that aims to discover and validate the next generation of drug targets for immunological diseases.

The £4.6million research collaboration, due to last four years, will work across four diseases – psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibrosis and vasculitis – and will be led by the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation.

The collaboration will allow scientists from UofG and Lilly to work together in order to drive the research forward – a move researchers hope will help enable the identification of first-in-class therapeutics for people suffering with these devastating and costly conditions. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis alone affects 0.3-1% of people across the globe and it is estimated that within 10 years of diagnosis 40% of people will be unable to stay in full-time work. This has major socio-economic repercussions. In the UK, this costs the NHS on average £700 million per year and indirectly costs the UK economy an estimated £8 billion per year.

The UofG team, led by Professor Carl Goodyear, includes Professor Stefan Siebert, Dr Mariola Kurowska-Stolarska, Dr Neal Millar, Dr Neil Basu and Dr Thomas Otto.

Professor Iain McInnes, Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary & Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow, said: “In the current COVID environment, it is particularly important that our research continues to focus on discovering new ways to treat patients with other diseases that can and will affect people’s quality-of-life.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Lilly in this extremely exciting collaboration. Strengthening links with industry is hugely important as we move to translate our research findings into clinical practice which benefits patients.”

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University said: “Glasgow’s researchers have a vision to drive forward innovation, in order to tackle some of society’s most urgent challenges. The Glasgow-Lilly collaboration is well positioned to be an inspiring example of this vision and of the exciting possibilities of industry and academia working together. I look forward to seeing this important partnership progress, advancing the next generation of “first-in-class” therapeutic agents and their alignment with precision medicine approaches.”

Ajay Nirula, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President of Immunology at Lilly, said: “Lilly’s research efforts continue to expand beyond our own laboratories to include unique partnerships with top academic institutions such as the University of Glasgow.

“We look forward to collaborating closely with the scientific team at UofG to discover potential new therapies for immunological disorders.”

Professor Carl Goodyear, Professor of Translational Immunology at the University of Glasgow added: “The collaboration represents a unique opportunity to combine Glasgow’s world-class clinical and translational skills with Lilly’s therapeutic capabilities and technology platforms for developing novel therapeutics.

“This is a highly unique collaboration that is aimed at harnessing not only cross-disease comparison but also intra-disease pathological comparison across different affected tissues. By providing this disease and tissue contextualization it will enable the identification and validation of unique therapeutic targets.

“We are delighted to be establishing this fantastic collaboration and we are confident that it will deliver the next generation of “first-in-class” therapeutic agents, which will fundamentally change the lives of people who are afflicted with devastating immunological disorders.”