European drug discovery initiative launched among academia, industry

European Lead Factory to begin with 196 million euros in funding and roughly 500,000 novel compounds

Kelsey Kaustinen
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BRUSSELS,Belgium—An internal consortium of 30 industry and academic partners have joinedtogether to create the European Lead Factory, a novel platform for a newapproach to drug discovery. The initiative is supported by the InnovativeMedicines Initiative (IMI), and seeks to revitalize drug discovery by providingan 'industry-like' discovery platform for public partners, to aid in takingnovel academic research forward into promising lead molecules more rapidly thancurrent approaches allow.
 
"IMI is veryexcited by the launch of the European Lead Factory. This unique project is anexcellent example of how a public-private partnership can transform the way inwhich the pharmaceutical sector identifies new medicines," Michel Goldman, IMIexecutive director, said in a press release. "For the first time, it will giveEuropean researchers unprecedented access to industry chemical collections andfacilitate the translation of their findings into actual treatments forpatients. This project will not only advance the chances of success in thediscovery of new medicines by European researchers, but also add value bybuilding research capacity in Europe."
 
 
TI Pharma, aNetherlands-based non-profit, will oversee governance of the project, and isresponsible for the scientific management of the screening center. The projectwill have a budget of roughly €196 million (approximately $262.4 million). €80million (approximately $107.1 million) of the budget will come from theEuropean Commission's Seventh Framework Programme for Research, €91 million(approximately $121.8 million) from in-kind contributions from participatingcompanies that are members of the European Federation of PharmaceuticalIndustries and Associations (EFPIA) and the remaining €25 million(approximately $33.5 million) from the non-EFPIA members.
 
 
"The EuropeanLead Factory is an outstanding example of a project in which public-privatepartnerships enable collaborative drug discovery. The platform brings togetheracademia and industry as well as small and medium enterprises in a uniquepartnership aiming to discover innovative medicines," said Hanno Wild, seniorvice president and head of Candidate Generation & Exploration at ProjectCoordinator Bayer HealthCare Global Drug Discovery. "Bayer is committed tofurther develop this novel platform by providing decades of experience in drugdevelopment. The joint efforts of the consortium will support drug discoveryand hopefully generate new therapies for patients."
 
 
The initiativewill work off of a collection of small molecules, part of which will becontributed by pharmaceutical companies, and the remainder of which will be anewly synthesized compound collection built by the participating small andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic institutions. As part of thisproject, the seven participating pharmaceutical companies will contribute atleast 300,000 chemical compounds from their collections, and the academiamembers and SMEs will jointly develop roughly 200,000 additional compounds. Thecollection will be screened within the pharmaceutical companies and by thenewly established European Screening Centre.
 
 
"The experienceof creating an unparalleled drug discovery platform consisting of leadingEuropean SMEs and academia has been very exciting and compelling, to say theleast," Dimitrios Tzalis, CEO of Taros Chemicals and head of the consortium'schemistry effort, said in a statement. "This platform of knowledge andexperience, based on novel chemistry and innovative targets will be fortifiedby the pharmaceutical industry's expansive knowledge in drug development,resulting in a giant surge forward in drug development."
 
 
"Establishingthis public private partnership brings unprecedented opportunities to develop asustainable ground breaking drug discovery platform based on superior input andoutput by connecting top notch science, decades of experience in drug discoveryand development and the agility of SMEs," Ton Rijnders, scientific director ofTI Pharma and head of screening of the European Lead Factory.
 
 
 
 
 
SOURCE: TI Pharma press release

Kelsey Kaustinen

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