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Manchester nuclear hormone research approach is a UK first

14 Jan 2011

Researchers and doctors from Manchester institutes have joined forces with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to launch an innovative joined-up approach to tackling chronic inflammatory disease.

The creation of the Manchester Centre for Nuclear Hormone Research in Disease is the first time academics, the NHS and industry have collaborated in a three-way approach to finding new therapies for inflammatory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), and rheumatoid arthritis.

The centre will be jointly managed by Professors David Ray and Andrew Loudon from The University of Manchester and the National Institute for Health Research Manchester Biomedical Research Centre (MBRC), and Dr Roberto Solari of GSK.  It will focus research efforts on understanding the role of nuclear hormone receptors in inflammatory diseases and seeking to identify compounds that could help lead to new treatments.

Leading the research teams will be Visiting Professor Stuart Farrow, the newly appointed Chair in Experimental Therapeutics at The University of Manchester and the MBRC.  Professor Farrow will also continue his current role at GSK, where he has been developing new medicines for lung diseases such as asthma and COPD since 2000. 

An external advisory board with industrial and academic representatives will also provide guidance on research strategy. 

Initial work will focus on several specific projects which together address the broader aim of understanding the biology of chronic inflammation, what causes it to persist and the best options to develop new therapies.

“This is a tremendously exciting development, bringing together industry expertise in drug discovery with local research and clinical expertise and access to clinical research facilities,” said Stuart Farrow.  “Harnessing the capabilities of outstanding researchers, the expertise within the NHS and GSK’s considerable resources creates a very powerful collaboration.  Our aim is to speed up the discovery and development of new medicines to treat these major inflammatory diseases.”

David Ray, Deputy Director of the MBRC, added: “Having already worked with Stuart – who is a widely respected researcher in this field - we’re delighted he’s involved in the programme.  The free interchange of ideas, facilities and research staff between the various GSK sites world-wide and the Manchester BRC will also maximise training opportunities for young researchers, and the rapid implementation of new ideas.  Ultimately we hope this will translate into major benefits for patients affected by these debilitating conditions.”

The new programme will initially run for three years, and the team is also applying for additional industrial and Medical Research Council funding to extend the scope of the collaboration.


Notes for editors

  • The NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre was created by the National Institute for Health Research in 2008 to effectively move scientific breakthroughs from the laboratory, through clinical trials and into practice within hospitals to improve patient care. As a partnership between Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester, the Biomedical Research Centre is designated as a specialist centre of excellence in genetics and developmental medicine.
  • The University of Manchester, a member of the Russell Group, is the largest single-site university in the UK. It has 22 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance. According to the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, The University of Manchester is now one of the country’s major research universities, rated third in the UK in terms of ‘research power’. The University has an annual income of £684 million and attracted £253 million in external research funding in 2007/08.
  • GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit

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Kate Henry
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Aeron Haworth
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The University of Manchester

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