Companies partner to turn old drugs into new remedies
A National Institutes of Health initiative will pair researchers with about two dozen pharmaceutical industry compounds from three drug companies to help scientists investigate new disease treatments. The NIH’S National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences—which was established last year—has partnered with Pfizer, Astrazeneca and Eli Lilly and Co. for the new Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules pilot program. In this initiative, those companies will make more than 20 molecular compounds and all related data available to biomedical researchers, who in turn will explore new treatments. About $20 million will be used in the first year for researchers to conduct pre-clinical and clinical feasibility studies. Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, said in a news conference that the genomic revolution has allowed scientists to know the molecular basis of about 4,500 diseases. But of those, only about 250 diseases have treatments. “Tens of millions of dollars and years of work have already been invested in each compound. They’ve already cleared safety-testing in humans, but did not prove effective for the specific disease or commission for which they were developed or they were not pursued for business reasons,” Collins said. “But thanks to the initiative being announced today, researchers at U.S. universities, biotech companies and non-profits can apply for NIH funding and access to these compounds in order to test their effectiveness in treating other diseases or conditions.”
Collins says the compounds to be used for new drugs have cleared safety tests.