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NIH Director Dr Francis Collins

NIH partners with pharmaceutical companies, not-for-profits to speed disease research

By Sabriya Rice
Posted: February 4, 2014 - 2:30 pm ET

In what is being called an unprecedented partnership, the National Institutes of Health announced Tuesday that it is joining forces with 10 biopharmaceutical companies and several not-for-profit organizations to accelerate development of promising new diagnostics and treatments for Alzheimer's disease, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

While technological advances have produced a wealth of data on the biological cause of disease, the announcement noted that moving these discoveries into treatments has been far more difficult. “It's time to work together in new ways to increase our collective odds of success,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins in a news release.

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The Accelerating Medicines Partnership will include participation from AbbVie, Biogen Idec, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly & Co., Merck & Co., Pfizer, Sanofi and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. among the biopharmaceuticals, and the Alzheimer's Association, American Diabetes Association, Lupus Foundation of America, Geoffrey Beene Foundation, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Rheumatology Research Foundation and USAgainstAlzheimer's among the not-for-profits.

The initiative, which comes with an investment of $230 million, will include pilot projects lasting from three to five years in each of the disease areas. An estimated $41.6 million will go toward the autoimmune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. $58.4 million will go to a program on type-2 diabetes, which will help researchers seek means for using genetic data in developing better therapies. The largest budget, $129.5 million, will go toward clinical trials identifying biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease, as well as a large-scale analysis of human brain tissue samples of patients with the disease.

In January, hopes for developing an effective treatment for Alzheimer's took a frustrating hit, when two once-promising beta amyloid inhibitors failed to improve patient cognition during pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials.

“Patients and their caregivers are relying on science to find better and faster ways to detect and treat disease and improve their quality of life,” said Collins. “Currently, we are investing a great deal of money and time in avenues with high failure rates, while patients and their families wait. All sectors of the biomedical enterprise agree that new approaches are sorely needed.”

Follow Sabriya Rice on Twitter: @MHsrice

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