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UK Biomedical Cluster, Pfizer Partner to Translate Basic Science into Rare Disease Treatments

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC), a UK non-profit focused on advancing translational research, has inked an agreement with Pfizer to use molecular and genomic technologies to develop medicines for treating rare diseases.

Under the five-year initiative, investigators at GMEC's partnering universities will work with Pfizer scientists in joint programs aiming to translate basic research into new drugs for treating rare diseases, GMEC said today.

GMEC's partners include Cambridge University; Imperial College London; King’s College London; Queen Mary University London; University College London, and Oxford University.

There are over 6,000 rare diseases and they impact more than 3.5 million people in the UK and about 60 million in Europe and the US, GMEC said. Because roughly 80 percent of these diseases are thought to have a genetic origin, genomic analysis is enabling scientists to pinpoint the biochemical pathways at the root of these conditions. GMEC and Pfizer aim to build on recent knowledge about the molecular mechanisms that underpin rare diseases, and their efforts will benefit from UK genomics resources, such as Genomics England, GMEC said.

"Collaboration between industry and the scientific community is vital to the goal of driving the development of a new generation of medicines to improve the lives of patients with rare diseases," Mikael Dolsten, president of worldwide research and development at Pfizer, said in a statement.

Along with its university members and Pfizer, GMEC also has partnerships with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, GlaxoSmithKline, the London Development Agency, Monitor-Deloitte, and ReedSmith.