News archive 2010
Largest drug discovery project launched19 Jan 2010, PR 13/10
An international consortium of scientists, led by H. Lundbeck A/S and King's College London, has launched one of the largest ever research academic-industry collaboration projects to find new methods for the development of drugs for schizophrenia and depression.
'Novel Methods leading to New Medications in Depression and Schizophrenia' (NEWMEDS) is a unique project, bringing together top scientists from academic institutions with a wide range of expertise, and partnering them with nearly all major global drugs companies including AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novartis, Orion, Pfizer, Roche, Servier and Wyeth.
Other academic institutions involved are: Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), The University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), Central Institute of Mental Health (Germany), CSIC (Spain), the University of Manchester (United Kingdom) and the Bar Ilan University (Israel). A further two pharmaceutical small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), deCODE (Iceland) and Psynova (United Kingdom) will contribute to the success of NEWMEDS, while the SME GABO:mi (Germany) will be managing the project.
With a wealth of new knowledge and research findings related to schizophrenia and depression emerging every year, it has been hard to take these findings from the bench to the clinic. The researchers believe there to be three major bottlenecks that are holding the field back:
- a lack of accurate animal models to guide the drug discovery,
- a lack of tools and tests in healthy volunteers that can provide early indication of efficacy; and
- the reliance of clinical trials on symptom-based Diagnostic and Statistical Manual categories which inevitably leads to biologically heterogeneous groups of patients. NEWMEDS aims to overcome these limitations with a novel approach to drug discovery and strong collaboration within the consortium.
The main objective of NEWMEDS is to develop new models and methods to enable novel treatments for schizophrenia and depression. The project will focus on developing new animal models which use brain recording and behavioural tests to identify innovative and effective drugs for schizophrenia. The project will develop the hardware and analysis techniques to apply brain imaging, especially MRI and PET imaging to drug development. It will examine how new genetic findings (duplication and deletion or changes in genes) influence the response to various drugs and whether this information can be used to choose the right drug for the right patient. And finally, it will try and develop new approaches for shorter and more efficient trials of new medication – trials that may require fewer patients and give faster results.
Professor Shitij Kapur, Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's and Leader of the Managing Entity comments: 'NEWMEDS is a very timely experiment. While the biology of psychiatry has made remarkable progress, we have been slow in converting that into innovative and new medications. This is a joint challenge for academia and industry. NEWMEDS is a joint response. It is not only scientifically innovative, but, it is also an innovation in creating a cluster of nearly 50 scientists from both sides to work together to achieve a common goal – better, safer and more effective medications – more quickly.'
Dr Tine Bryan Stensbøl, Divisional Director for Discovery Pharmacology Research at H. Lundbeck A/S, Coordinator of the NEWMEDS consortium comments: 'Academia and industry have a long tradition of working together on a one-on-one basis. NEWMEDS embodies a novel collaborative effort where companies join forces and together with academia answer scientific questions in a precompetitive environment that will form the basis of tomorrow's medicines. This joint effort will provide novel insights that undoubtedly will be of the benefit of the patients suffering from schizophrenia and depression.'
Notes to editors
The project is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a young and unique public-private partnership between the pharmaceutical industry (represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EFPIA) and the European Union (represented by the European Commission). IMI aims to put Europe at the forefront of biopharmaceutical innovation and to support more efficient discovery and development of better medicines for patients. IMI's innovative funding scheme has a budget of €1 billion .from the European Union's 'Seventh Framework' Programme (FP7/2007-2013). That amount will be matched by in kind contributions of at least another €1 billion from the EFPIA member companies. More information about the Innovative Medicines Initiative can be found on: www.imi.europa.eu.
King's College London
King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2009) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has more than 22,000 students from nearly 140 countries, and more than 5,700 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.
King's has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise for British universities, 23 departments were ranked in the top quartile of British universities; over half of our academic staff work in departments that are in the top 10 per cent in the UK in their field and can thus be classed as world leading. The College is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of nearly £450 million.
King's has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe; no university has more Medical Research Council Centres.
King's College London and Guy's and St Thomas', King's College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King's Health Partners. King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world's leading research-led universities and three of London's most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit: www.kingshealthpartners.org.
Acting Public Relations and Communications Manager, Institute of Psychiatry
Tel: 0207 848 5377
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