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NIH Funds Industry Collaborations to Identify New Uses for Existing Compounds

Pilot initiative explores potential treatments in eight disease areas (June 18)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded $12.7 million to match nine academic research groups with a selection of pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore new treatments for patients in eight disease areas, including Alzheimer’s disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and schizophrenia. The pilot initiative is being led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).

The process of developing a new therapeutic is long and difficult. The average period from target discovery to approval of a new drug is more than 13 years, and the failure rate exceeds 95%. According to the NIH, however, this failure rate means that many partially developed compounds could be advanced to clinical trials more quickly than starting from scratch.

“With thousands of diseases remaining untreatable, there is a sense of urgency to accelerate the pace at which discoveries are transformed into therapies for patients,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This program helps forge partnerships between the pharmaceutical industry and the biomedical research community to work together to tackle problems that are beyond the scope of any one organization or sector.”

Each award recipient will test a selected compound for its effectiveness against a previously unexplored disease or condition. The eight disease areas represented are alcohol dependence, Alzheimer’s disease, calcific aortic valve stenosis (a condition in which the heart valve hardens and makes it difficult to pump blood out of the heart), nicotine dependence, peripheral artery disease, schizophrenia, and two rare diseases: Duchenne muscular dystrophy and the progressive lung disease lymphangioleiomyomatosis.

Projects include:

  • The efficacy and safety of a selective estrogen receptor beta agonist (LY500307)
  • Fyn inhibition by AZD0530 for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Reuse of ZD4054 for patients with symptomatic peripheral artery disease (PAD)
  • Translational neuroscience optimization of GlyT1 inhibitor for cognitive impairments associated with schizophrenia
  • A novel compound for alcoholism treatment: A translational strategy
  • Therapeutic strategy to slow progression of calcific aortic valve stenosis

Source: NIH; June 18, 2013.

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