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NIH partners with 10 pharma companies to tackle major disease targets

By Zachary Brennan , 11-Feb-2014
Last updated on 11-Feb-2014 at 11:06 GMT

The National Institutes of Health and 10 pharmaceutical companies have launched a partnership to transform the current model for identifying and validating promising biological targets for Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) - which also includes a number of nonprofit organisations - aims to distinguish biological targets of disease most likely to respond to new therapies and characterize biomarkers through an investment of more than $230M over five years.

This is a pre-competitive consortium so the information shared will not be proprietary,” Seema Kumar, VP for innovation communication at Johnson and Johnson, told In-PharmaTechnologist.com.

Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and J&J will work on Type 2 diabetes, according to Kumar. The collaboration is unique because all of these companies typically compete with one another. The rest of the breakdown in terms of funding is below:

($Millions)

Total Project

Total NIH

Total Industry

Alzheimer’s Disease

129.5

67.6

61.9

Type 2 Diabetes

58.4

30.4

28

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus

41.6

20.9

20.7

Total

229.5

118.9

110.6

This is not about drugs we’re already working on,” Kumar added, noting that the deal is more related to the translational research of these diseases. “It’s similar to working on the human genome project,” she added. “Everyone gets access to the information because it’s non-proprietary…this is all pre-competitive.”

A critical element of the partnership is the agreement that the data and analyses generated will be made publicly available. The three- to five-year, milestone-driven pilot projects in these disease areas could set the stage for broadening AMP to other diseases and conditions, according to NIH.

President Obama even joined in on the kudos for the collaboration, noting, “My Administration is taking action to accelerate the development of life-saving drugs and to help identify new treatments and cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s and diabetes.”

But Kumar seemed to be cautiously optimistic on the deal. “Typically taking a molecule and making it into a medicine takes about 10 years…that said, I think that if you take a disease like Alzheimer’s or diabetes, we have a lot to learn about the disease,” she said.

AMP has been more than two years in the making, with interactions between scientists in the public and private sectors, progressive refinement of the goals, and strategy development support from the Boston Consulting Group.

The more we learn, the better diagnostics we can develop,” Kumar added. “Pooling our research and knowledge to get a more complete picture, better treatments, arguments and therapies…that’s the goal.”

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