Thursday, May 24, 2007

Glaxo China R&D centre to target neurodegeneration

Thu May 24, 2007 12:34 PM BST

LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Friday it had appointed Dr. Jingwu Zang to head a major new research and development centre in Shanghai, which would focus on neurodegenerative diseases.

The centre aims to create new drugs for disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease. It will eventually direct global discovery and development activities in its therapeutic area, from drug-target identification to late-stage clinical studies.

Zang, the founding director and a professor at the Institute of Health Sciences in Shanghai, will take up his position in June.

Glaxo's research head Moncef Slaoui, who told its annual meeting on Wednesday that an announcement on building a fully integrated R&D centre in China was imminent, said the move marked a significant expansion of the group's research effort.

"We intend to be part of a future in which the phrase 'discovered in China' is heard as often as 'made in China' is heard today," he said in a statement.

Glaxo already has an R&D presence in China via collaborations with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, the drug research institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Its new move mirrors efforts by other major drugmakers to tap into the country's skills in life sciences.

China is rapidly growing in importance for the pharmaceuticals industry -- as a centre of research, production and future sales.

The country is set to become the world's fifth-largest medicine pharmaceuticals market by 2010, with sales nearly doubling to $25 billion from $13 billion in 2005, Boston Consultancy, an independent consulting group, said last year.

In the past Western drugmakers have been wary of investing in China because of a reputation for weak patent protection. But industry executives say patent enforcement is now improving.

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