GlaxoSmithKline's Tres Cantos Open Lab for DDW R&D

Partnership Objective

Discovery of new medicines for neglected diseases.

Since the open lab was established in 2011, a portfolio of 60 research projects has been established, half of them are now complete. Since the open lab was established in 2011, a portfolio of 60 research projects has been established, half of them are now complete. Copyright Tres Cantos

What are the health needs and challenges?

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 diseases that disproportionally impact those living in poverty. More than 1.4 billion people worldwide are affected by NTDs, including more than 500 million children. The opportunity exists to help millions of people avoid significant debilitation and disability, including malnutrition, disfigurement and social discrimination. 

The most urgent need in the fight against diseases of the developing world is for new and better medicines. To date, efforts to develop new medicines for treating diseases of the developing world remain somewhat fragmented and disconnected. Despite considerable investment, progress has been limited.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

GlaxoSmithKline has an R&D facility in Tres Cantos, Spain, which has been dedicated to developing new treatments to combat diseases of the developing world (DDW) since it was established in 2001. Since that time, GSK has worked in a number of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that have funded or co-funded a large number of drug discovery projects. In 2010, GSK announced its intention to open up the Tres Cantos facility further, to become a global centre of excellence that brings new partners to the facility and stimulates research and collaboration on neglected diseases where research is still too fragmented.

Established in 2010 as an independent, not-for-profit organisation overseen by a Governing Board, the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation is:

  1. A bold and flexible way to cast the widest possible net in the effort to find new medicines for neglected diseases.
  2. An opportunity for scientists from around the world to partner with GlaxoSmithKline teams, using GSK's facilities and know-how to rapid-test their own projects at the very early stages of drug discovery.
  3. The world's first open laboratory for diseases of the developing world, where world-class scientists can test ideas on an industrial scale.

GSK’s open lab has space for visiting scientists from universities, not-for-profit partnerships and other research institutes - such as the Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB), Weill Cornell Medical College in the US, and Imperial College, London - to work on their projects for the developing world, learn from GSK expertise and share its world-class facilities.

A governing board of leading scientists is providing strategic direction for the foundation. All projects must contribute to research that helps discover new medicines for diseases of the developing world.

Open lab projects are designed to explore new ideas that may lead to finding new medicines for diseases of the developing world. Projects are focused on early stage drug discovery and could involve research into new targets, tools, screening, lead identification and optimisation. To be considered for support, there should be added value for the project in operating within the collaborative principles of the Open Lab, and it must align with the strategic objectives of the Foundation:

  • To develop novel classes of medicines for malaria.
  • To develop new medicines that reduce treatment time and improve activity against multiple drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB.
  • To develop novel approaches to tackle other neglected diseases of the developing world, such as leishmaniasis and trypanosomiasis.
  • Early-stage drug discovery and tools for shigellosis research

Summary of impact and forward looking information

To facilitate the establishment of the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation, GSK provided £5 million of an initial investment to support the Foundation’s objectives. In October 2012, two years after the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation was first established, GSK announced that it would double its funding by making an additional £5m available thus reinforcing its commitment to the value of openness and collaboration. TCOLF has also recevied funding from the European Union to co-fund 11 fellowships through the FP7 Cofund programme. 

Since the open lab was established in 2011, a portfolio of 60 research projects has been established, half of them are now complete. 


Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation

Partnership information

Company(ies) GlaxoSmithKline

Partner(s) Autonomous University of Madrid, Barcelona Centre for International Health Research, Calibr (The California Institute for Biomedical Research), CICbioGUNE (Center for Cooperative Research in Biosciences), CIDR (Center for Infectious Disease Research), CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), CSRC (Caucaseco Scientific Research Center), Durham University, Edinburgh University, ETH Zürich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Harvard Medical School, Harvard School for Public Health, INSERM / INTS (Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine), Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS), Institut Pasteur Korea, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory), McGill University, Monash University, MRC (Medical Research Council), New York University, Northeastern University, Omnia Molecular, Sapienza University of Rome, Structural Genomics Consortium / University of Oxford, SUNY Upstate Medical University, TeagueMedChem, Texas A&M University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Birmingham, University of British Columbia, University of Buenos Aires, University of Dundee, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Glasgow, University of Helsinki, University of León, University of Liverpool, University of Sydney, Weill Cornell Medical College

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, Other Business

Therapeutic Focus Neglected Tropical Diseases, Infectious Diseases

Disease(s) Chagas Disease, Human African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness), Leishmaniasis, Malaria, Tuberculosis

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Scientific Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Operations Research, Research & Development - Pediatric R&D

Targeted Population(s) Children, Elderly, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Men, Mothers, People with low income, Women, Youth

Region(s) Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 102

Country(ies) Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, The Gambia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, West Bank and Gaza, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Start Date 2011

More information Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation

Anticipated completion date Ongoing

« ...We are very aligned and focused on the success of the projects. I think this will have a real impact on the development and success of the projects and ultimately on finding new treatments and cures for the diseases of the developing world. »

Feliz Calderon, Tres Cantos Open Lab Mentor | Malaria