The money, in support of the University of Toronto's Genetics of Asthma programme, will gain Zeneca a 30-day option to sign up for the exclusive exploitation of any commercial products arising from the study.
The Canadian group will study the homogeneous population of the tiny South Atlantic Ocean island of Tristan de Cunha. About a third of its 275 inhabitants suffers from asthma; 95 per cent have agreed to take part in the research.
While environmental factors play a part in triggering asthmatic attacks, genetics are also believed to have an important role. The market for anti- asthma drugs is put at about pounds 2.5bn globally this year. In the UK alone, an estimated 100,000 hospital admissions annually are associated with asthma, resulting in 2,000 deaths. It accounts for 7 million lost work days, or pounds 300m in lost productivity.
Dr Tom McKillop, Zeneca's technical director, said the money demonstrated the international nature of the company's collaborative research and underlined the importance it attached to respiratory disease innovation.
Last year Zeneca spent pounds 256m on research and development, 13 per cent on the respiratory area.Reuse content