Yesterday, I made a post concerning big pharma cutting back its investment in many areas of neuroscience due to the higher risk presented in this therapeutic area and the high costs associated with it. It was also pointed out that much of the difficulty lies with there not being many good biomarkers and model systems to work in.
Today I see a post In the Pipeline that describes a development funding opportunity being presented by NIH in the neuroscience arena:
The NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research is establishing a ‘virtual pharma’ network of contract service providers and consultants and is soliciting applications for U01 cooperative agreement awards from investigators with small molecule compounds that could be developed into clinical candidates within this network. This program intends to develop drugs from medicinal chemistry optimization through Phase I clinical testing and facilitate industry partnerships for their subsequent development. By initiating development of up to 20 new small-molecule compounds over two years (seven projects were launched in 2011), we anticipate that approximately four compounds will enter Phase 1 clinical trials within this program.
There you have it. The NIH is trying to assemble the resources (in a virtual network) and provide the funding encouragment to develop new therapies for neuro diseases. And, they appear to be serious in seeking results:
Applicants must have available small-molecule compounds with strong evidence of disease-related activity and the potential for optimization through iterative medicinal chemistry. Applicants must also be able to conduct bioactivity and efficacy testing to assess compounds synthesized in the development process and provide all pre-clinical validation for the desired disease indication. . .This initiative is not intended to support development of new bioactivity assays, thus the applicant must have in hand well-characterized assays and models.
The goal is to develop at least one novel and effective drug for a nervous system disorder that is currently poorly treated and to catalyze industry interest in novel disease targets. Not everyone is loathe to pick up the challenge of developing new neuro drugs.
Posted by Bruce Lehr March 29th 2011.