(originally published in ASBMB Today )
It takes several years and millions of dollars for a new drug to come to market, starting from the time that its properties are first studied at the bench. That’s a lot of time and money. What’s even more stupefying is that only a fraction of drug candidates make it to market. Clearly, a new approach to drug development is needed — one that not only expedites and increases the availability of drugs but also maintains the high standard of quality needed to ensure safety and efficiency.
A new collaboration announced earlier this year called the Accelerating Medicines Partnership seems to promise a viable solution. The collaborators include 10 of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, the National Institutes of Health and several nonprofits. The goal: to develop new treatments earlier for three serious conditions — Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disorders, namely rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
“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,” NIH Director Francis S. Collins said in the announcement.
The syndicate has pledged more than $230 million over the next five years for research aimed at identifying biological targets and characterizing new biomarkers. The parties have agreed unanimously to make the resulting data and analyses publicly available despite conventionally being competitors. The expected consequence is the stitching together of a vast knowledge network needed to solve the big problems of pharmaceutical research.
Mikael Dolsten, president of worldwide research and development at Pfizer, a participant of AMP, optimistically prognosticated that “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 patients.
The research will be overseen by steering committees with representation from both the public and private sectors. Offering even more hope to patients and families is the possibility of extending AMP to other diseases and conditions through advances made by the milestone-driven pilot projects in the three disease areas.
Capturing the spirit of the collaboration, Rupert Vessey of Merck said, “Our most critical health challenges require new, innovative ways to develop medicines and vaccines. Collaborations such as this, that exchange data, share insights and generate knowledge, will be important to unraveling the mysteries of the diseases that cause suffering for individuals and are a burden to our society.”