Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation announces the start of three new Open Lab projects

The search for new medicines to treat diseases of the developing world is a tough challenge, requiring multiple innovative approaches.  To this end the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation today announces the start of three new research projects, bringing the number of projects it has supported to 14.

The projects will enable scientists from the US, Korea and UK to work on early stage investigations into Tuberculosis and Leishmaniasis in the Open Lab at GSK’s Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus in Madrid.

The University of Minnesota is sending scientist Curtis Engelhart to work on a TB project to conduct a whole-cell high-throughput screen using GSK’s ultra high-throughput screening (uHTS) facility to evaluate thousands of compounds for their potential antibacterial activity against a target known as BirA.

Also working in TB is the team from the Institut Pasteur in Korea, Jaime Escribano and Minjung Seo, who will be testing a new class of compounds recently discovered by the Institute that specifically kill intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The third project from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is focused on Leishmaniasis. Rosario Diaz will seek to develop and validate an assay to measure the replication rate for intracellular parasites.

  • Despite considerable research advances, Tuberculosis remains the leading cause of death from bacterial infection. . With existing treatments based on drugs in use for several decades, emergence of resistance to these treatments has become an increasing challenge, and a new approach is needed to develop alternative medicines.
  • Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease found in tropical areas and in southern Europe causing a range of diseases, the most serious of which is visceral leishmaniasis (VL)..  Available treatments for VL are not ideal, being either expensive, difficult to administer, or have significant side effects.  Resistance has emerged as a serious problem in some areas.

Recognising that efforts to develop new treatments for diseases of the developing world are too complex to be addressed by any one organisation, the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation funds projects from global institutes, organisations and universities whose investigations would benefit from the acceleration provided by industrial scale facilities and know-how housed at GSK’s Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus in Spain.

The Foundation’s Governing Board Chair and Trustee, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said:  “Having three new projects start simultaneously represents a real ramp-up of activity for the Foundation.  Between them, TB and Leishmaniasis kill more than a million people each year and I am delighted to welcome these new projects because I know their valuable work will add to the ongoing innovative research being conducted into these diseases at the Open Lab.” ENDS

About the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation

The Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation is focused on providing funding and support for scientists, academics and institutions to develop and advance new ideas that could lead to new medicines to treat diseases of the developing world. Researchers are invited to submit projects for collaboration and funding, to be reviewed by the Foundation’s Governing Board and Trustees.

About the University of Minnesota

At the University of Minnesota, curiosity and discovery are in our DNA. Located in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the university’s flagship campus provides a thriving urban environment for teaching and learning, world-class research, and outreach and public service. In its collective search for knowledge, the U of M empowers faculty, staff and students and inspires the next generation of innovators. Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota is ranked among the nation’s top public research universities. As a land-grant institution, the U of M is committed to engaging Minnesota, national and global communities to advance interdisciplinary knowledge; enhance students’ academic, civic, career, social and personal development; and apply intellectual and human capital to serve the public good.

About LSHTM

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a world-leading centre for research and postgraduate education in public and global health.  Its mission is to improve health and health equity worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.

About the Institut Pasteur Korea (IP-K)

Institut Pasteur Korea (IP-K) is a non-profit organization based in Seoul, South Korea. It was established in 2004 based on the collaboration agreement with a world-leading life sciences research institute, Institut Pasteur, and the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (formerly known as the Ministry of Science and Technology). Integrating Institut Pasteur‘s over one hundred and twenty years of biotechnological knowledge with Korea’s state-of-the-art information technology and chemical research capabilities, IP-K has established itself as a well-renowned translational research institute. With a strategic focus on enabling technologies and therapeutics development in disease models pertaining to public health, IP-K leverages on the systematic implementation of visual high throughput screening in conjunction with imaging approaches in critical steps of infectious and chronic disease. By enabling real-time observation of live disease cells, IP-K’s technology accelerates the drug discovery process, reduces its cost, opens the door to entirely new classes of drugs, and offers new insights into the mechanisms of disease.