Public-Private Collaborations To Drive Successful Drug Development
Original article published on Assay Depot Blog, on 27 May 2014 here.
The key to fighting chronic diseases is connecting the multitude of scientific and technological advances to diagnostics and therapeutics. Experts have recognized that to efficiently achieve this connection, a truly collaborative approach to drug discovery and development is required. This has resulted in a high-profile collaboration in the US for developing novel therapeutics against chronic diseases – Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) .
This collaboration will utilize expertise from scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ten pharmaceutical companies and numerous non-profit organizations. The goal of AMP is to determine disease-specific biomarkers that can be targeted by developing new drugs. Furthermore, AMP will specifically address this issue for 3 major chronic diseases - diabetes, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).
A similar venture is underway in Europe, where collaboration will lead to the formation of the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation (CTTV) near Cambridge, England . The partners in this collaboration are GlaxoSmithKline Plc, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Similar to the CTTV, Oxford University has established a collaborative research initiative, Target Discovery Institute (TDI) . Like AMP, both CTTV and TDI will use recent advances in biology to identify therapeutic biomarkers for chronic diseases. This will lead to a more rational drug development and will prevent targeting the wrong biological pathways.
Partnerships such as AMP have required a major shift in the mind-set of researchers in academia and industry. These precompetitive collaborations call for an open-minded approach, with emphasis on data sharing and open science. The NIH believes that a venture such as the AMP (or CTTV and TDI) will have multiple advantages:
- Increased efficiency - Reducing drug development time by identifying appropriate drug targets
- Improved process - Stratify patients based on biomarkers and thus target therapy to patients most likely to respond to the drug
- Increased novel and effective targeted therapies - More rational drug design and reducing failures in late stages of drug development
AMP will begin by undertaking pilot projects ranging from 3-5 years and plans to invest $230 million at this initial stage. Steering committees, managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) will oversee this research. Further, this initiative has the potential to be expanded to include other disease conditions. According to Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, “patients and their caregivers are relying on science to find better and faster ways to detect and treat disease and improve their quality of life.”
To quote the President of the United States, the AMP will “combine(s) the considerable resources of America’s government with the innovation of our private sector companies in an effort to find new answers to today’s domestic and global public health challenges.” Let’s hope that these combined efforts will in fact usher in novel therapies effective against these major chronic diseases!