GlaxoSmithKline Anti-Doping Facilities to become Medical Research Centre

The anti-doping facilities presently operated by King’s College London at the Harlow research site of GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), official test centre service provider for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games, will be transformed once the Games have finished into a centre for investigating phenome patterns to support greater personalised drug development.

A phenome describes a person’s chemistry (the molecules in their blood, urine or tissues) that is the outcome of their genetics and lifestyle. This mixture of molecules is constantly altering, and is linked to how someone reacts to disease or to treatments.

The MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, which it’s academic and industry partners claim is the first of its type globally, will be maintained by funding of £5 million each from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Department of Health’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) over five years.

The intention is to make world-class phenotyping technology and knowledge accessible to both academic researchers and the life sciences industry, fast-tracking the translation of medical discoveries into better healthcare, allowing researchers to explore the characteristics of disease to develop new drugs and treatments for patients.

New biomarkers

Researchers will study samples (usually blood or urine) from patients and volunteers to help discover new biomarkers that will highlight factors contributing to disease and guide the progress of safer, more personalised treatments.

MRC chief executive, Professor Sir John Savill, noted that “the GSK drug-testing facility at Harlow has taken one of the major challenges associated with this type of research – achieving high-throughput alongside forensic quality control – to a new level, unprecedented anywhere in the world.”

“Rather than losing this investment once the Games are over, the collaboration – involving the MRC, NIHR, UK universities, the NHS and NIHR Biomedical Research Centres, and industry leaders in the field – will provide a unique resource that will ultimately result in benefits for patients,” he added, describing the initiative as “a phenomenal legacy from the Games.”


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