GSK establishes a new DPU focusing on Traditional Chinese Medicines

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has recently included a special unit focused on on traditional Chinese medicine for Drug Discovery (#Drugdiscovery). Those Drug Performance Units (DPU) are given milestones and timelines tailored to the work they have on hand.

GSK has tended to keep its DPU cards close to its vest for competitive reasons. Two additions to the DPU organization have been made. One new unit has been inspired by a young scientist with a “brilliant idea” regarding hemoglobin biology. Another is in the area of traditional Chinese medicine.

GSK is eager to put traditional remedies to the test of modern drug development and clinical efficacy standards. Once GSK starts that, the pharma company has the opportunity to discover “new molecular entities with significant efficacy.” There’s been a steady turnover of DPUs over the past three years. Before the company announced this week it will shutter three of the units and add four more, GSK had already launched 8 units and closed 6.

Personal accountability also extends to new partnerships. The units can make a decision about working on a new method of their own or partnering with another developer. They share in the budgeted cost of the partnership, as well as the fate of the technology. And that’s enhanced the quality of the internal assessment of a partnership, especially when you consider that making the right choice can determine the “life or death” of a DPU.

Prof. Ceri Davies, Vice President, Head of GSK Singapore R&D Site, Head of Neural Pathways DPU, GSK, Singapore, would be presenting at Drug Discovery World Asia 2012 this March on "Formulating innovative and effective therapeutic treatments for neurodegenerative diseases".

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