In an effort to speed up the discovery of new medicines, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has created the European Lead Factory, a Europe-wide public-private partnership that combines the Joint European Compound Collection, a comprehensive collection of candidate drug molecules, with an industry-like screening center.
The pharmaceutical companies involved in the future project have committed to contributing at least 300,000 chemical compounds from their otherwise safeguarded corporate chemical collections. The teams of universities and small and medium-sized enterprises in the project will have access to this unique library of chemicals and are expected to add another 200,000 compounds. The screening center will build on industry’s expertise in high-throughput screening—a testing method in which robots test hundreds of thousands of unique chemicals for biological activity.
The European Lead Factory will provide to public partners an industry-like discovery platform to translate cutting-edge academic research into high-quality candidate drug molecules on a scale and speed that was not possible previously. Such candidates will be directly introduced to the drug development process for further refinement or will serve as research tools to improve understanding of disease mechanisms.The joint screening center will give academic teams a unique opportunity to work in conditions that meet industry standards, facilitating the translation of their findings into actual treatments for patients,” said Michel Goldman, IMI’s executive director. “This shared facility, together with the joint European Compound Collection, will greatly advance the chances of success in the discovery of new medicines for researchers in Europe.
The total budget for the project amounts to $222 million: up to $105 million will be provided by the European Commission’s seventh Framework Program for Research (FP7) and up to $117 million will be provided in in-kind contributions by the participating companies that are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).