Yesterday, Francis Collins announced that the NIH has secured a deal with Pfizer, AZ and Eli Lilly to collaborate on existing compounds to look for new uses (disease treatments) for them. The four-way partnership will be led by the NIH's new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Collins of course has been a major proponent of the center and the need to speed up the pace at which discoveries are turned to medicines.
This pilot program has legal templates established among the players which should clear IP hurdles that could bog things down. The rationale for looking at exisiting drugs is that sometimes a drug developed for one disease does work for another -- e.g. AZT developed for cance rbut was ultimately applied to AIDS. These existing drugs have many times also undergone previous safety testing so not having to redo safety work can also speed the development process.
Collins is excited to get started. He notes that researchers have identified the causes of 4500 diseases but only 250 have developed treatments. Collins says, "The future has never looked brighter in terms of the promise of biomedical research, but we have to be smarter than ever, and we have to look for new partnerships."
Posted by Bruce Lehr May 4th 2012.