Bayer supports innovative drug discovery in Europe

BayerBayer HealthCare initiated and will coordinate a newly founded pan-European consortium, named European Lead Factory, which has been launched to enhance early drug discovery addressing the need for innovative drugs. The new five-year project will create an exceptional small molecule library collection allowing drug discovery on innovative and promising targets from pharma companies and academia. Bayer HealthCare and six other pharmaceutical companies, all members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), will collectively contribute at least 300,000 substances to the European Lead Factory initiative. Bayer alone will provide about 50,000 compounds and its expertise in early drug discovery.

Additionally, a library of estimated 200,000 compounds will be newly developed jointly by academia and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the course of the new initiative. Together, the two libraries will form a Joint European Compound Collection consisting of up to half a million compounds that will be accessible not only to all project partners, but also to public organizations and SMEs who are invited to introduce promising new targets for pharmacological screening. Target proposals will be selected through competitive calls. Thus, drug discovery using the Joint European Compound Collection will be performed on proposed targets from pharma companies as well as targets sourced from the public domain.

The consortium will also set up a state of the art European Screening Centre with compound logistics and High Throughput Screening (HTS) facilities which will be located in Scotland and The Netherlands respectively. The highly-automated process will allow researchers to rapidly screen the exceptional Joint European Compound Collection for molecules that could be a promising starting point in the development of new drugs.

"The European Lead Factory is an outstanding example of a project in which public-private partnerships enable collaborative drug discovery", said Hanno Wild, Senior Vice President and Head of Candidate Generation & Exploration at Bayer HealthCare Global Drug Discovery. "The platform brings together academia and industry as well as Small and Medium Enterprises in a unique partnership aiming to discover innovative medicines. Bayer is committed to further develop this novel platform by providing decades of experience in drug development. The joint efforts of the consortium will support drug discovery and hopefully generate new therapies for patients."

The novel consortium is a public-private partnership supported by Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

Michel Goldman, IMI Executive Director, said: "IMI is very excited by the launch of the European Lead Factory. This unique project is an excellent example of how a public-private partnership can transform the way in which the pharmaceutical sector identifies new medicines. For the first time, it will give European researchers unprecedented access to industry chemical collections and facilitate the translation of their findings into actual treatments for patients. This project will not only advance the chances of success in the discovery of new medicines by European researchers, but also add value by building research capacity in Europe."

The European Lead Factory consists of 30 international partners, including pharmaceutical companies, SMEs and academia. This new public-private partnership has been initiated for a period of five years. Based on the proven success of the open innovation model, the European Screening Centre and the teams of SMEs and academic institutions aim for a sustainable role in drug discovery and the future growth of drug development in Europe after the initial funding period. The total budget for the project amounts to around €196 million. Up to €80 million comes from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), and about €91 million is provided as in kind contributions from the participating EFPIA companies. The remaining €25 million comes from other contributions from the non-EFPIA participants.

About the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)
The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is the world's largest public-private partnership in health. IMI is improving the environment for pharmaceutical innovation in Europe by engaging and supporting networks of industrial and academic experts in collaborative research projects. The European Union contributes €1 billion to the IMI research programme, and this is matched by in kind contributions worth at least another €1 billion from the member companies of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). The Innovative Medicines Initiative currently supports 40 projects, many of which are already producing impressive results. The projects all address major bottlenecks in drug development, and so will accelerate the development of safer and more effective treatments for patients. The research leading to these results has received support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n° [115489], resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies' in kind contribution.

About Bayer HealthCare
The Bayer Group is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech materials. Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG with annual sales of EUR 17.2 billion (2011), is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry and is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Bayer HealthCare's aim is to discover, develop, manufacture and market products that will improve human and animal health worldwide. Bayer HealthCare has a global workforce of 55,700 employees (Dec 31, 2011) and is represented in more than 100 countries.