The WSJ and Fierce Biotech report that the NIH will establish a new center, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, to accelerate drug development from the lab to the market. This concept is an attempt to translate all the new molecular information that is available about various diseases into useful therapies -- a connection that has been slow to materialize over the past decade. A working group studying the problem estimates that under the current system 95% of candidate drugs prove to be ineffective.
The new center woudl include the NIH newly launched Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program as well as other initiatives aimed at accelerating drug development. The new center is viewed as the hub and driver for NIH efforts to push promising discoveries further down the drug discovery pipeline. Eventually, the NIH would license the most promising candidates to pharma or biotech companies. The initial effort according to NIH's Francis Collins will be to identify once-promising compounds that were abandonned for whatever reason in an attempt to rescue them and generate quicker returns.
Collins hastens to add "We're not trying to turn the NIH into a pharmaceutical company or compete with the private sector. If we can get a hit [with rescued drugs], we can jump years and hundreds of millions of dollars ahead in developing new drugs."
Posted by Bruce Lehr December 9th 2010.