“Open Source” Drug Discovery - €196M Program Launched

Ben Steele | eyeforpharma | February 8, 2013

Major pharma firms have joined together in a consortium with academics and SMEs that will invest €196 million in a new project to give a boost to ‘open-source’ drug discovery in the EU.

European drugmakers Sanofi, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Janssen, Merck KGaA, UCB and Lundbeck have agreed to contribute over 300,000 small molecules to the European Lead Factory (ELF), an open platform which will hold a library of compounds accessible to both public and private organizations. In addition to the 300,000 compounds submitted to the ELF by big pharma, there are plans for another 200,000 novel compounds to be developed by academic centres working together with SMEs, meaning over half a million compounds will ultimately be available for screening. In order to sort through this huge library of leads, a European Screening Centre will be set up, with sites in Scotland and the Netherlands containing state-of-the-art facilities for high throughput screening.

The project is supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative  (IMI), a public-private health partnership that has so far received €1 billion in funding from the EU and which “aims to build a more collaborative ecosystem for pharmaceutical R&D” in order to increase Europe’s competitiveness globally. Of the €196 million that has been pledged to fund the project, €80 million will come from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) and €91 million will be contributed by participating pharma companies who are members of the European Federation of Pharma Industries and Associations (EFPIA). The remaining €25 million will come from non-EFPIA participants...