The European Lead Factory (ELF) - a drug discovery hub for validation new targets from academia and biotech SMEs – has again received project funding from the Innovative Medicine's Initiative.
Over the next five years, 20 partners in 7 countries involved in the new project ESCulab (European Screening Centre: unique library for attractive biology) will push forward the transformation of potential drug targets to new medicines – the consortium will receive €36.5m under the framework of the Innovative Medicines Initiative II (IMI-2).
“I am genuinely excited to see a continuation of screening activity against this unique library our SME chemistry partners and we have created in ELF’s first phase under Taros’ leadership," said Dimitrios Tzalis, Taros CEO and member of ELF Project Executive. "I very much hope our value added will provide new starting points for future medicines to serve society and patients."
The ELF was set up in 2013 for five years under guidance of the IMI with a €196m budget to accelerate drug discovery and reduce the high failure rate in pharmaceutical development. Its European Screening Centre carries out standardised, industry-compatible high throughput screens against the Joint European Compound Library including 550,000 compounds (350,000 thereof initially provided by Big Pharma companies) against new disease targets found by academic groups or biotech companies.
According to Jon de Vlieger, coordinator of the ESCulab consortium at Lygature, the new project is also an expansion of ELF’s capabilities: “In an effort to broaden our scope we are not only looking for target-based approaches, but now also enable phenotypic screens,” he said.
Early preclinical translation of biomedical discoveries from bench to bedsite have suffered from a significant know-how gap of EU researchers in IP and lead optimisation capabilities as well as in the understanding of the regulatory requirements and industry’s needs for successful drug development. The ELF is designed to bridge academic know-how with industry capabilities in drug development, and improve communication between those very different scientific worlds.
Stefan Jaroch, project lead of Bayer AG, stressed that: “the European Lead Factory has clearly shown how crowd sourcing and collective intelligence can indeed advance biological concepts into drug discovery projects that benefit academia, industry, society and ultimately patients.”
The plan for the next five years is, to let the European Lead Factory initiate 185 new drug discovery projects. Servier and Grünenthal as well as the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the leading product development partnership in the field of antimalarial drug research and development have joined the ESCulab project .
The IMI Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations and the Medicines for Malaria Venture.