AstraZeneca joins NIH on drug repositioning pilot

Today, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a pilot program that matches academic researchers with a selection of compounds from the pipelines of AstraZeneca and two other pharmaceutical companies.

The program, called the Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules initiative, is meant to speed the pace at which basic discoveries are turned into treatments for patients by repositioning or repurposing compounds that have already been studied by pharmaceutical companies.

“Americans are eagerly awaiting the next generation of cures and treatments to help them live longer and healthier lives. To accelerate our nation’s therapeutic development process, it is essential that we forge strong, innovative, and strategic partnerships among government, academia, and industry,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

“Clearly, we need to speed the pace at which we are turning discoveries into health outcomes,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “NIH looks forward to working with our partners in industry and academia to tackle an urgent need that is beyond the scope of any one organization or sector.”

In this video, Clive Morris, Vice President of the New Opportunities Innovative Medicines Unit, explains AstraZeneca’s drug repositioning efforts.

Don Frail, AstraZeneca’s Vice President of Science within the New Opportunities Innovative Medicines Unit, explains the rationale behind the program:

“The pharmaceutical industry invests heavily in researching potential new medicines, a process that is extremely difficult and results in failure more often than not.” Frail said. “But just because the initial research program on a compound does not pan out as expected does not mean that the effort is wasted. In fact, many successful medicines were considered ‘failures’ in one disease area, only to be effective in a completely different disease area. The benefit of this collaboration is that it enables selected industry compounds to be crowd-sourced to scientists all across the U.S. The program provides the opportunity to match a great scientific idea with the right industry compound, and in the end the patient benefits.”

AstraZeneca strives to realize the full potential of its portfolio and leave no stone unturned in our search for new and effective medicines that can benefit patients. Our New Opportunities Innovative Medicines Unit (iMed) ensures we maximize opportunities outside our current disease area focus through in-licensing or by repositioning or repurposing internal compounds that may not have been successful in one disease area, for new disease areas, often in collaboration with external investigators:

  • The New Opportunities iMed has evaluated hundreds of AstraZeneca compounds nominated for development to identify those most appropriate for internal repositioning and potential external collaborations.
  • In December 2011 AstraZeneca, led by the New Opportunities iMed, and the UK Medical Research Council announced a landmark agreement to make a wide range of AstraZeneca compounds available to UK medical researchers.

The New Opportunities iMed is on the lookout for additional opportunities to access external scientific talent and resources to drive innovation with AstraZeneca assets.