30 public and private partners have launched a €196m innovative drug discovery platform today called The European Lead Factory, in a bid to create opportunities that will enhance early drug discovery.
Supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the new scheme aims to speed up drug discovery by screening a large collection of small molecules part-contributed by pharmaceutical companies and partly by a newly synthesised compound collection built by SMEs and academic institutions.
The seven pharmaceutical companies partnered in the initiative, including Bayer Pharma, Merck and Sanofi, will contribute at least 300,000 chemical compounds from their corporate chemical collections.
A library of around 200,000 additional novel compounds will be developed jointly by academia and SMEs.
The two libraries will form a Joint European Compound Collection consisting of up to half a million compounds that will be accessible to all project partners and to public organisations offering promising new targets for drug discovery screening.
These target proposals will be selected through competitive calls.
IMI executive director Michel Goldman commented; "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."
Another part of the platform is the European Screening Centre, based both in the Netherlands and in BioCity Scotland, which will help develop screening tests that are designed to support industry methods and standards.
Both sites will run modern facilities for compound logistics and high throughput screening to respectively handle the 500,000-strong compound library and to evaluate new compounds that are active against the novel targets.
The initiative’s €196m budget is being supplied by several sources.
€80m will come from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7); €91m will come from participating companies with European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) membership and €25m will come non-EFPIA participants.