The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has launched Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe (CARE), a consortium of  academic institutions, research organisations and pharmaceutical companies.

The consortium will accelerate the discovery, research and development of medicines to treat Covid-19. It has an initial grant of €77.7m from the European Union, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and three IMI-associated partners.

CARE brings together 37 partners from across Europe and the US. It is being led by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, VRI-Inserm, Janssen and Takeda.

VRI-Inserm executive director and CARE coordinator Professor Yves Lévy said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has emerged as the largest global health threat to humanity in this century, requiring the global scientific community to join forces in unprecedented ways. 

“Beyond the scientific excellence of the different teams involved in this very ambitious project, CARE is bringing together 37 partners in an alliance pooling their expertise and know-how around an ambitious five-year work plan to develop therapeutics against the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are very grateful for the financial support provided by the Innovative Medicine Initiative that will enable us to implement this plan.”

The consortium builds on three main pillars – drug repurposing and repositioning, small molecule drug discovery and virus neutralising antibody discovery.

UK-based artificial intelligence (AI) drug discovery company Exscientia is coordinating the small molecule pillar and will be leveraging its existing work on Covid-19 drug discovery.

Exscientia CEO Professor Andrew Hopkins noted: “The CARE consortium has ambitious goals to deliver pan-coronoviral therapeutics that can be useful in the current and future viral pandemics.

“We are taking a comprehensive approach to developing agents against multiple coronavirus drug targets.

“Exscientia is proud to be at the heart of this joint research effort, as the primary drug design centre.

“We intend to bring the demonstrated speed and power of our cutting-edge AI-platform to CARE to accelerate the delivery of anti-coronavirus drug candidates to the clinic to meet the urgent needs of patients.”