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IMI unveils €237m backing for drug development projects

Includes projects involving data sharing, stem-cells and biologic drug delivery

The EU's Innovative Medicines Initiative has kicked off its fourth round of projects with seven new public-private partnerships, backed with €237m in funding, that focus on drug development.

Topping the list in value terms is the €56.4m EMIF initiative, which will try to develop a common information framework for patient-level data that will link up a range of medical and research data sources, opening up new avenues of research for scientists.

Focusing initially on obesity and Alzheimer's, the five-year project is being managed by Erasmus University in the Netherlands and coordinated by Janssen, with a €24.1m funding contribution from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

Next up is the €55.6m STEMBANCC project, which will focus on the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) to test drugs for safety and efficacy. STEMBANCC aims to generate and characterise 1,500 iPS cell lines, which are reprogrammed adult cells that act like stem cells. These will be used by researchers to study a range of diseases, including diabetes and dementia.

The project is being managed by Oxford University in the UK and coordinated by Roche, with €21m funding from EFPIA.

COMPACT will look at new ways to deliver biologic drugs into the body, for example by identifying and characterising the main transport routes across biological barriers and through cell membranes that could be exploited for drug delivery. The €30m project - with €16.6m from EFPIA - is being managed by Utrecht University in the Netherlands and coordinated by Sanofi.

In the area of manufacturing, CHEM21 takes a green chemistry approach to the drug development process, as it aims to make the production process more environmentally friendly, something that will also cut costs for the pharmaceutical sector. The €26.4m initiative will be managed by Manchester University in the UK, coordinated by GlaxoSmithKline, and supported with €13.6m from EFPIA.

The €23.7m eTRIKS project is setting up an open-source research data and analysis platform for use by IMI and other projects that need to integrate and share data from different sources. The hope is that the project, which is managed by Imperial College London and coordinated by AstraZeneca, will help reduce redundancy and costs in research. EFPIA is putting €10.3m into the initiative.

Another project called ORBITO has been awarded €24.5m to develop ways to improve the development of orally-bioavailable biopharmaceuticals, which currently "involves a lot of trial and error", according to the IMI.

ORBITO will try to set up new or improved lab tests and computer modelling methods to deliver more accurate predictions of drug behaviour in real life. Managed by Sweden's Uppsala University, the project is being coordinated by AstraZeneca with €11.5m in EFPIA contributions.

Finally, a €20.9m drug-binding kinetics project - called K4DD and managed by Leiden University in the Netherlands - will develop methods and tools to allow researchers to study drug-target interactions with greater ease. It is being coordinated by Bayer Pharma with €9.8m funding from EFPIA.

"IMI's exciting new projects will help to dramatically improve the drug development process and ultimately speed up the generation of safer and more effective drugs for patients," said the group's executive director Michel Goldman.

5th December 2012

From: Research

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