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Europe's IMI plans compound library and screening centre

Innovative Medicines Initiative scheme will see European pharma companies give academic researchers access to compounds

European pharma companies are planning to make 300,000 compounds from their in-house libraries available to academic researchers under a €169m scheme set up by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

The Joint European Compound Collection will be linked to an industry-like European Screening Centre which 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", said IMI executive director Michel Goldman.

The IMI was set up in 2010 as a public-private partnership between the European Union (EU) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), with the aim of speeding the discovery and development of new medicines.

It is claimed to be the largest public-private partnership in life sciences R&D worldwide and was name checked by AstraZeneca recently as the sort of partner the pharma company wants its new Science and Technology Integration Office to work with.

In addition to the 300,000 compounds supplied by large pharma companies, another 200,000 compounds will be contributed by universities and small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Screening Centre will make use of state-of-the-art high-throughput screening (HTS) technology using robots to test hundreds of thousands of unique chemicals for biological activity.

A spokesperson for the IMI said that no location for the centre has been decided yet, as this will depend on the proposals submitted by applicants expressing an interest in housing and operating the unit.

Funding for the new project will come both from the public purse - with €80m provided by the EC's Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) - while EFPIA member companies will stump up €89m.

Meanwhile, the IMI notes that participants in this and future projects will benefit from a more streamlined administrative process and simpler application procedures that should reduce the time it takes to receive grant awards.

7th March 2012

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