Three months after the formation of TransCelerate BioPharma in Philadelphia, a similar European mega project takes off with $72 million in funding.

Today, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) announces the kick-off of its 4th wave of projects, which have been set up to tackle some of the biggest challenges in drug development. The new projects should ultimately accelerate the development of safer and more effective drugs for patients.
With a total budget of €55.6 million, STEMBANCC is one of IMI’s biggest projects to date. It aims to generate and characterize 1,500 human induced pluripotent stem cell lines, from 500 different patients, that researchers could use to study diseases and test drugs for safety and efficacy.

Integrating and managing data from diverse sources is a key theme for two of the new projects. For example, the €56.4 million EMIF project has the goal of creating a common information framework of patient-level data that will link up and facilitate access to diverse medical and research data sources. In its initial phase, the project team will focus on obesity and Alzheimer’s disease research. Meanwhile the eTRIKS project is setting up a research data and analysis platform for use by all IMI projects that need to integrate and share data from different sources.

  • Another cluster of projects focuses on the delivery of drugs and their behavior once in the body. ORBITO is developing new ways to study how drugs are absorbed by the gut; currently, our understanding of this issue is limited.
  • Biopharmaceuticals, novel drugs based on biological molecules like proteins, could prove effective at treating many diseases, but getting these drugs to where they are needed in the body is far from easy; tackling this problem is the goal of the COMPACT project.
  • Drugs work by interacting with a target molecule; the K4DD project aims to develop new tools that will allow researchers to study this interaction in greater detail; this information will help scientists determine whether a potential drug is safe and effective.
  • Finally, CHEM21 takes a green chemistry approach to the drug development process, as it aims to make the process more environmentally friendly, something that will also cut costs for the pharmaceutical sector.

Michel Goldman, IMI Executive Director commented: “Issues like data management and our need for greater understanding of how drugs behave in the body are currently hampering drug development. By addressing these key issues, IMI’s exciting new projects will help to dramatically improve the drug development process and ultimately speed up the generation of safer and more effective drugs for patients.”

The new projects mean that IMI now has 37 ongoing projects with a combined budget of almost €800 million. Furthermore, IMI has a number of major projects in the pipeline; an initiative to create a Joint European Compound Collection and Screening Centre, and a major program on antimicrobial resistance, will be launched in the near future.

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