Imagine the benefits to public health if rival pharmaceutical companies set aside their differences and teamed up with one another, as well as with a cadre of nonprofit organizations, to identify and test promising new medications.
Today, after two years of planning, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), several nonprofits, and ten biopharmaceutical companies (including Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Sanofi) are doing just that. Dubbed the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP), the coalition aims to identify biological targets of disease that are most likely to respond to new therapies, and to characterize biological indicators of disease, known as biomarkers.
The ultimate goal is to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients, and reduce the time and expense required to develop them.
Through the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), AMP partners will invest more than $230 million over five years in the initial projects, which focus on Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Speeding Up the Search for Treatments
Their data and analyses will be made publicly available to the biomedical community. AMP envisions that the three- to five-year, milestone-driven pilot projects in these disease areas could set the stage for expanding AMP to other diseases and conditions.
According to the NIH, developing a drug from early discovery through U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval currently takes well over a decade, and has a failure rate of more than 95 percent. As a consequence, each success costs more than $1 billion.
Commenting on the unprecedented partnership, NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., said, “Patients and their caregivers are relying on science to find better and faster ways to detect and treat disease and improve their quality of life. Currently, we are investing a great deal of money and time in avenues with high failure rates, while patients and their families wait. All sectors of the biomedical enterprise agree that new approaches are sorely needed.”
Reducing the Rate of Failure
He added, “The good news is that recent dramatic advances in basic research are opening new windows of opportunity for therapeutics. But this challenge is beyond the scope of any one of us, and it’s time to work together in new ways to increase our collective odds of success. We believe this partnership is an important first step and represents the most sweeping effort to date to tackle this vital issue.”
As a result of technological revolutions in genomics and imaging, researchers have been able to identify many changes in genes, proteins, and other molecules that predispose a person to disease and influence disease progression. While researchers have identified thousands of such biological changes that hold promise as biomarkers and drug targets, only a small number have been pursued. Choosing the wrong target can result in failures late in the development process, which means a loss of time, money, and ultimately, lives.
“The AMP rallies scientific key players of the innovation ecosystem in a more unified way to address one of the key challenges to biopharma drug discovery and development,”said Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D., the president of worldwide research and development at Pfizer. “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 to address the urgent needs of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and RA/lupus patients.”