Posted 04 May 2012
By Alexander Gaffney
The National Institutes of Health's (NIH) new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) said it will launch a new pilot program to partner with a number of pharmaceutical manufacturers in an effort to look for new uses for some of their existing compounds.
NCATS, currently under the temporary leadership of Thomas Insel, was formed in late 2011 to spur the development of new therapies by focusing on ways to bridge the so-called "valley of death" between the discovery of a compound and the use of that compound as a therapy to treat a disease.
The new initiative, dubbed the Discovering New Therapeutic uses for Existing Molecules, will focus on drug compounds that have already been tested in humans and have proven to be safe, though ineffective against their original intended targets.
Three companies-Pfizer, Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca-will supply NCATS with "dozens of their compounds" to seed the program during its pilot phase.
Eli Lilly is already involved in a similar partnership with NIH in which it has given NIH access to its Phenotypic Drug Discovery Panel equipment to screen NCATS' existing library of more than 3,800 medicines.
NIH said in a statement that the pilot program is using "template agreements to streamline the legal and administrative process for participation by multiple organizations, " leaving open the possibility that the pilot program could be scaled up dramatically in the future in a way that minimizes the cost to both NIH and industry.
Drug compounds will remain the property of the participating organizations, while academic researchers will own any intellectual property discovered and may publish the results of their studies.
Read more:NIH - NIH launches collaborative program with industry and researchers to spur therapeutic development