The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has officially announced the construction of an EU-wide public-private partnership, the "European Lead Factory", to combine a comprehensive collection of candidate drug molecules - a Joint European Compound Collection - with an industry-like European Screening Centre.
Michel Goldman, IMI's Executive Director commented: "The joint screening centre will give academic teams a unique opportunity to work in conditions that meet industry standards, facilitating the translation of their findings into actual treatments for patients. This shared facility, together with the joint European Compound Collection, will greatly advance the chances of success in the discovery of new medicines for researchers in Europe."
The pharmaceutical companies involved in the future project have committed to contributing at least 300 000 chemical compounds from their otherwise safeguarded corporate chemical collections. The teams of universities and small and medium-sized enterprises in the project will have access to this unique library of chemicals, and are expected to add another 200 000 compounds. The Screening Centre will build on industry’s expertise in so called 'high-throughput screening' - a testing method in which robots test hundreds of thousands of unique chemicals for biological activity.
The European Lead Factory will provide to public partners an 'industry-like' discovery platform to translate cutting-edge academic research into high-quality candidate drug molecules on a scale and speed that was not possible previously. Such candidates will be directly introduced to the drug development process for further refinement or will serve as research tools to improve our understanding of disease mechanisms.
The total budget for the project announced in IMI's 5th Call for proposals amounts to €169 million. Up to €80 million will be provided by the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7), and the remaining amount of up to €89 million will be provided in in kind contributions by the participating companies that are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is the world's largest public-private partnership in drug research. By linking industry, academic teams, regulators and patients' organisations in joint research and training projects, IMI is transforming the EU's ecosystem for pharmaceutical R&D, making Europe a more attractive place for private investment in innovation. By sharing research results that have not been brought together previously, IMI project partners are building new methods, models and tools that will speed up the development of novel therapies. IMI is funded jointly by the European Union (€1 billion in cash) and EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (€1 billion in in-kind contributions).