Wednesday, 05 February 2014 11:23

Facing Data Flood, NIH Announces Open Access Pharma-Nonprofit Alliance to Sort out Biomarkers and Targets

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pharmaceuticalsNIH Takes on the $1 Billion Pill with
Open Access Pharma-Nonprofit Alliance.
Photo Credit: John Fleischman
NIH Director Francis Collins yesterday unveiled an unusual open access alliance of 10 "biopharmaceutical" companies and eight nonprofits to wade through the growing flood of bio data on four diseases—Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes, and the autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus—to identify therapeutic targets and characterize biomarkers. All data and analyses will be publicly shared. The pharma and nonprofit allies will put up $230 million over five years in hopes of making translational sense of the mass of new imaging, "omic" sequencing, and other data on these four diseases with massive impacts on public health. The new alliance is called the Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP).

The current system of individual companies plowing vast amounts of time, money, and resources into drug development is massively inefficient, according to Collins. NIH data show that identifying a target, developing a drug, and submitting it to clinical trials takes a decade and has a failure rate of 95%. Successful drugs typically cost $1 billion each. Collins explained, "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."

The NIH press statement on AMP is here

Further details on AMP are here

The NIH Director's blog is here

The New York Times report is here

John Fleischman

John is ASCB Senior Science Writer and the author among other things of two nonfiction books for older children, "Phineas Gage: A Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science" and "Black & White Airmen," both from Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt, Boston.

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