Accelerated Discovery and Development of New Medicines: Prosperity Partnership for a Healthier Nation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Pure and Applied Chemistry

Abstract

GSK is a global healthcare company that discovers, develops and manufactures medicines to treat a range of conditions including: respiratory diseases, cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, bacterial and viral infections (such as HIV and lupus), and skin conditions like psoriasis. GSK makes over 4 billion packs of medicines each year, with the goal of playing its part in meeting some of society's biggest healthcare challenges.

Alongside a mission to provide transformative medicines to patients, GSK continually seeks to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our processes across the discovery, manufacturing, and delivery components of our supply chain. Indeed, GSK are committed to ambitious sustainability goals by 2050 that can only be achieved by making existing and future medicines via better routes, driving innovation all the way from the first design of the molecule through to patients in the clinic.

This Prosperity Partnership aims to build on existing vibrant collaborations between GSK and the Universities of Nottingham and Strathclyde. The strengths of each partner will be leveraged to deliver a new suite of methods and approaches to tackle some of the major challenges in the discovery, development, and manufacture of medicines. Our vision is to increase efficiency in terms of atoms, energy, and time; resulting in transformative medicines at lower costs, reduced waste production, and shorter manufacturing routes.

Key challenge areas, or themes, covered in our partnership include:

1. The development and application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to the efficient identification of next generation medicines: in Drug Discovery, many hundreds of candidate structures are designed, prepared, and tested to find the molecule with the right profile to take into the clinic. The development of AI informed decision making has the potential to deliver huge savings by minimising the number of compounds that need to be made at this stage. The software developed will incorporate green chemistry principles with the goal that the chemical methods employed are as efficient and sustainable as possible.

2. Next generation catalysis and synthesis: Chemists seeking to discover new medicines need new reactions that will allow them to make and investigate structures that are currently difficult, or even impossible, to make. A key objective of this proposal will be to develop new reagents, catalysts, and reactions to facilitate the more efficient preparation of drug-like molecules to accelerate drug discovery. Similarly, we will develop new ways of performing some of the most common chemical transformations in the synthesis of medicines whilst avoiding the use of carcinogenic reagents.

3. Sustainable processes that deliver efficiency and transition to scale-up from grammes to kilogrammes. Currently under-utilised approaches, such as electrochemistry, will be explored for their ability to catalyse reactions with cheaper and less environmentally impactful metals, such as replacing palladium with nickel.

4. A new Digital Design toolset for equipment will enable Digital Manufacturing of novel pharmaceutical processing equipment. Current development relies on existing traditional vessels and flow reactors that compromise our ability to deliver processes that operate at optimal performance. The research will couple advanced process models, state-of-the-art experimentation, and 3-D printing/additive manufacturing technologies to revolutionise how we develop, scale up, and operate chemical processes to supply new medicines.

Integration of the projects and the expertise from the three partner institutions, and the successful prosecution of our research objectives, will make a major contribution to the wider pharmaceutical sector and, indeed, GSK's mission of discovering and developing transformative medicines faster to help people do more, feel better, and live longer.

Planned Impact

This Prosperity Partnership will have positive impacts in the following areas:
PEOPLE. Ultimately, the delivery of better medicines using smarter methods with shorter lead times will have a notable impact upon the health, wellbeing, and prosperity of the nation and worldwide. On a more local level, this Partnership will facilitate and drive the training of a cadre of highly skilled scientists who will share technical excellence and the wider impacts of their science both locally and globally.
The pharmaceutical industry constantly needs cutting edge science to deliver transformative medicines, increased sustainability, and better manufacturing processes. This drives a continuing demand for highly qualified and skilled scientists to lead innovation and manage change in these areas. As part of our Partnership we will deploy an inclusive cohort-based training network, spanning all 3 partners, which will provide industry-ready scientists with advanced technical competencies and leadership to ensure that the sector retains its primary position in innovation and productivity.
ECONOMY. A healthier nation is a more productive nation. Enhanced delivery of better medicines, envisioned by this proposal, allows people to do more. Drug discovery, development, and manufacturing are immensely challenging processes, particularly when sustainability is included. Addressing these challenges, this Partnership will deploy machine learning approaches to enable data-driven decision making in target generation and synthetic route definition. We will expedite optimal syntheses by using responsive digital methods to deliver energy and material resilient production to secure continued growth through innovation. Successes from this Partnership will be applicable across both the pharmaceutical and wider chemical industries, as many of the processes will be readily transferable.
SOCIETY. The diverse range of products manufactured by the pharmaceutical and chemical industries is vital to maintain the prosperity of the UK. Our Partnership will have a direct impact by ensuring the supply of trained people and new knowledge for increased health and sustainability for all. Health awareness and "green and sustainable" agendas are now fixed in the public consciousness, and there is an increased expectation for the pharmaceutical industry to deliver accordingly. Recent developments in AI and machine learning offer new tools for particular application in the discovery of new molecular entities through medicinal chemistry and early development. This Partnership will also seek to deploy novel chemistries, better catalysis, and state of the art processing opportunities to deliver potent materials with vastly increased sustainability. Being able to deliver these outputs in such an energy-efficient fashion will engender a sustainability ethos unique to the UK.
Engagement is also a crucial component of this Partnership; we will invite input and discussion from the public via lectures, showcases, and exhibition days. The Carbon Neutral Laboratory at Nottingham and Strathclyde's Engage Week will form hubs for technology open days and will provide key interfaces to give school pupils and young adults the opportunity to view science from the inside. We will broaden the impacts of our science by wider dissemination not only to the GSK/pharmaceuticals community but also across any who, directly or indirectly, have a shared interest in the prosperity of this sector.
KNOWLEDGE. In addition to the supply of highly trained people, this Partnership will have a major impact on knowledge. Our PDRAs and PhD candidates will tackle challenges at the forefront of sustainable pharmaceutical chemistry and through our links to GSK we will apply this knowledge to industry, whilst also filing patents and publishing in high impact journals. Our knowledge-based activities will drive innovation and economic activity, realising impact through creation of new jobs and securing our future.

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