NIH launches collaborative program with industry and researchers to spur therapeutic development
Scientists now can access select compounds from pharmaceutical companies that may lead to new therapies.
Balintfy: The National Institutes of Health has unveiled a collaborative program that will match researchers with a selection of pharmaceutical industry compounds to help scientists explore new treatments for patients.
Hudson: The goal of this new program called "Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules" is really two-fold.
Balintfy: Dr. Kathy Hudson is the acting Deputy Director of the NIH's new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, or NCATS. She says the first goal is try out new models or templates for collaborations.
Hudson: And the second goal is to see whether or not we can use this new model to accelerate the drug development pipeline by providing new ways of working together.
Balintfy: NIH has partnered initially with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Eli Lilly and Company which have agreed to make dozens of their compounds available for the pilot phase of this initiative.
Hudson: So all of those compounds have been sitting in freezers and sort of in the proverbial attic of these companies, out of sight and out of reach from the biomedical research enterprise. So what we're able now to do through this collaboration is make those available to researchers and basically crowd source these compounds and get the very best ideas from all American researchers to see whether or not there is a way to use these compounds to help provide new medicines for different diseases.
Balintfy: Dr. Hudson explains that a compound may be a drug that was tested for a disease and didnít work, so the pharmaceutical company shelved it.
Hudson: So what does that mean shelving it? In most cases, they have an extensive set of data about that compound and they're going to make that available, and then they will also provide enough of the compound for their use in our funded studies. So whether that's capsules or tablets or injectables or whatever, it's in the form that we'll need it to study it for another indication.
Balintfy: A prime example of a compound that did not prove effective for its initial use but succeeded for a different one is AZT. That drug failed to fight cancer, but was later found to be the first medicine effective against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Hudson is looking forward to more similar discoveries.
Hudson: Certainly we anticipate that there will be great new science and biological insights that will come out of this program. And while we don't to have extraordinarily high expectations because there's high failure rates at every step in the drug development process, we do hope that this will prove helpful in developing new medicines for unmet medical needs.
Balintfy: She adds this new partnership is emblematic of a specific kind of research, translational science.
Hudson: Translational science for us is really re-engineering the process of moving basic discoveries to new medicines, and that pipeline has been sort of the same for decades and decades and decades. And so like the water mains and gas pipes in your cities and town, that pipeline needs to be re-engineered from time to time, and so that's what NCATS is really about is bringing about better ways to do the whole process of drug development.
Balintfy: For more information about the "Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules" program, and the NIHís National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, visit the website http://ncats.nih.gov. For NIH Radio, this is Joe Balintfy— NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Kathy Hudson
Topic: therapy, molecule, partnership, model, drug, drug development, pharmaceutical, collaboration, translational, research