Ten large companies join NIH to speed up drug discovery

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) launched last February is a bold initiative that partners the National Institutes of Health (NIH), ten biopharma companies and several nonprofit organizations with the overall aim of speeding up drug development in areas deemed too challenging for individual drugmakers. The rationale behind this initiative, according to Francis Collins, director of the NIH, is to select better drug candidates, and improve the chances that they will prove clinically effective. AMP will plow $230 million—half from private sources—starting with pilot projects, into the following disease areas: Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune disorders lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The project will take patient samples, and undertake a molecular analyses integrating the data using computational tools. If successful, these first projects, aimed at selecting disease biomarkers and identifying targets, could set the stage for broadening AMP to other diseases. Companies participating in the first round of AMP include AbbVie, Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi and Takeda. Industry players agree that data and analyses generated from their pooled funds will be made freely available to the broad biomedical community. “This type of novel collaboration will leverage the strengths of both industry and NIH to ensure we expedite translation of scientific knowledge into next-generation therapies,” says Mikael Dolsten, president of Worldwide R&D at Pfizer of New York. “Through this partnership, we expect to identify new strategies for attacking some of the most challenging and costly diseases facing society, such as Alzheimer's disease,” adds Douglas E. Williams, Biogen Idec's executive vice president of research R&D, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “It's an exciting opportunity for us to collaborate across government, patient advocacy and industry to better understand the biology of disease and more effectively test our treatment hypotheses, helping us to get better medicines to patients faster.”

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Fox, J. Ten large companies join NIH to speed up drug discovery. Nat Biotechnol 32, 307 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt0414-307a

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