IMI launches 10th Call for proposals
On 29 October IMI launched its 10th Call for proposals. The deadline for submitting Expressions of Interestes (EoI) is 28 January 2014. Designed to cover the key research priority of infectious diseases, the topic of this Call is Immunological assay standardisation and development for use in assessments of correlates of protection for influenza vaccines. Applicant consortia are invited to submit an Expression of Interest which should address all aspects of the topic. The indicative duration of the project is 5 years.
Fighting influenza is a commitment that involves both the private and the public sectors. Effective influenza vaccines are produced every year by several vaccine manufacturers who are committed to provide inactivated or live attenuated vaccines consisting of the strains of influenza virus recommended by WHO. An IMI project proposal focusing on the standardisation of immunological assays and their development represents an ideal ground for public-private collaborative research.
- Find research partners through IMI’s partner search tool
- Read the Call text and learn more about the deadlines on the IMI website
New report highlights quality of IMI research
The 37 projects launched under IMI’s first four Calls for proposals have already produced 483 publications, and their average citation impact is twice the world average, making them ‘internationally influential’. These are just two of the headline findings from the latest bibliometric analysis of IMI project research carried out for IMI by Thomson Reuters. The report also reveals that one-fifth of the papers from IMI projects are ‘highly-cited’, meaning that when ranked by number of citations received, they fall inside the top 10% of papers globally for that journal category and year of publication. Top journals that have published IMI research include Nature, Science, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The report also demonstrates the collaborative nature of IMI research; over half of all papers from IMI projects are classified as ‘cross sector’, i.e. they feature collaborations between academic institutions and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for example.
IMI featured in Financial Times
IMI was the subject of a recent article in the Financial Times. In a special report on innovation and the economy, pharmaceuticals correspondent Andrew Jack writes: ‘The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) aims to create EU partnerships to boost biomedical projects. As it makes the case for fresh funding from the start of next year, it can already point to some achievements with global impact.’ The article also explains how IMI’s focus has moved from early stage research to clinical trial design and post-marketing surveillance of medicines.
Elsewhere in the special report, IMI’s intellectual property is mentioned in another article on industry-academia collaboration.
JTIs join forces for European Parliament event
The five Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs) – IMI, Clean Sky, ENIAC, FCH, and ARTEMIS – held a week-long event, Innovation in Action, at the European Parliament. The entire event focused on the added value of the public-private model for innovative research and the positive contributions that the JTIs make to an improved European quality of life. Throughout the week, the JTIs ran a series of joint sessions, including a debate, press breakfast and exhibition targeted at an audience that included Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and other policy makers, as well as the press, industry, academic and research organisations.
A debate co-chaired by MEPs Maria da Graҫa Carvalho and Antonio Fernando Correia de Campos was central to the week’s activities. Presentations summarising the JTIs’ achievements were followed by a lively panel discussion with contributions from Rudolf Strohmeier (Deputy Director General, DG Research & Innovation), Willy Van Puymbroeck (Head of Unit - Components, DG CONNECT), Florence Lefebvre-Joud (Chair of the FCH JU Scientific Committee), and a Q&A session, moderated by Mr Correia de Campos.
- The presentations from the session, as well as the press release and the speech at the opening ceremony, are available here
News from the projects
- Electronic nose sniffs out differences between severe asthma patients
IMI’s U-BIOPRED project has used an electronic nose platform to identify four clusters of severe asthma patients based on the pattern of molecules in their breath. The findings, presented at the European Respiratory Society’s Annual Congress in Barcelona, represent a first step towards the project’s goal of identifying distinct subtypes of severe asthma based on the extensive biological characterisation of patients. Elsewhere at the congress, the project released results demonstrating that people with severe asthma are less controlled by treatment than those with mild asthma. According to the team, 55% of adults with severe asthma regularly took corticosteroids yet showed greater airway obstruction and continued to suffer from exacerbations and other severe symptoms.
Commenting on the findings, project coordinator Peter Sterk of the University of Amsterdam said: ‘The findings of both these studies take us one step closer to understanding more about severe asthma. In order for us to help improve the lives of patients, we need to make a full biological and clinical “fingerprint” of each patient, by embarking on a huge analysis of data including a wide-range of samples from CT scans, to sputum samples, analysis of a person’s genetics and results from bronchoscopies. The U-BIOPRED project is doing that and we are confident that it will take us one step closer to developing personalised treatment for this condition.’
- EUPATI needs your help in hunt for model partnerships
If you are aware of any examples of models of patients or patient organisations working successfully with clinicians, academia and /or the pharmaceutical industry, the EUPATI project would like to hear from you! The project is in the process of putting together a catalogue of successful models of these kinds of partnerships. The idea is to use the information to develop models to encourage the greater and more active involvement of patient experts in medicines research and development. By using extensive literature searches, surveys and an online feedback form, they have evaluated over 50 validated examples, but they hope to receive further examples by the end of this year. More information, and details of the survey and feedback form are available here.
- Europain study: early action needed to prevent chronic pain
Repeated exposure to pain can rapidly lead to increased sensitisation to pain and changes in the parts of the brain involved in processing pain, according to new research by researchers from IMI’s Europain project. ‘Similar changes can also be seen in the brains of patients to suffer from chronic pain,’ explained Professor Thomas Tölle of the Technical University of Munich, who led the research. ‘We should therefore begin pain treatment as soon as possible, in order to counter these changes in time to prevent the pain from becoming chronic pain.’ Writing in the journal Pain the researchers explain how they exposed 27 healthy people to both painful and non-painful heat stimuli over a period of 11 days. The people were asked to rate the pain on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the strongest pain imaginable.
While half of the people got used to the pain, the other half appeared to become more sensitive to the pain, rating it as more intensive as the study progressed. Meanwhile brain scans of the people revealed clear changes in the brains of the people who became sensitised to the pain. These changes were located in the parts of the brain involved in processing pain and closely resemble the brain changes seen in people with chronic pain. The next question for the researchers is whether people who quickly become sensitised to pain are also more likely to develop chronic pain. Chronic pain affects one in five Europeans, and it represents a major cause of long-term sick leave and forced early retirement. Europain is working to boost our understanding of the causes of chronic pain, knowledge that is needed for the development of new analgesics.
IMI’s EMTRAIN project launches Learning Tools Navigator
The EMTRAIN project has developed a Learning Tools Navigator a web application which allows search and navigation through a catalogue of 388 learning tools offered by a range of software providers. The Learning Tools Navigator has been designed to help IMI’s Education & Training programmes and other biomedical science course providers to find suitable learning tools to deliver their courses. The current version of the web application contains the following functionality: browse and text search; filtering of search results; guided search; user guide and user feedback.
The Learning Tools Navigator was developed by the ‘Learning and teaching tools and methodology’ working group of the EMTRAIN project, with the aim of effectively applying currently available teaching methodologies and tools to a future European training platform in drug development that could be used by all relevant stakeholders in medicines research.
EMTRAIN, the European Medicines Research Training Network, is establishing a sustainable, pan-European platform for education and training covering the whole life-cycle of medicines research, from basic science through clinical development to pharmacovigilance.
- Try the Learning Tools Navigator
EMTRAIN shortlisted for regulatory affairs award
IMI’s EMTRAIN project has been shortlisted for the Regulatory Affairs Award in Innovation. Organised by TOPRA (Organisation for Professionals in Regulatory Affairs), the Regulatory Affairs awards recognise excellence and best practices in Regulatory Affairs in a high-profile way, which helps reinforce the contribution and value of the work of all regulatory professionals. The winners for 2013 will be announced at ceremony in London on 27 November.
EMTRAIN’s contribution to the innovation field is its on-course® portal which has been developed specifically to help biomedical course seekers find training programmes that are right for them, and to provide a platform for direct interaction between industry, students, professional / scientific bodies and course providers. With its list of 65 scientific and therapeutic areas as search options, on-course® provides the most specific search options for biomedical courses to date.
- IMI diabetes projects deepen cooperation
IMI’s three diabetes projects – IMIDIA, SUMMIT and DIRECT – are set to deepen their cooperation following the signature of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that formally creates the ‘IMI Diabetes Platform’. ‘With a combined budget of €100 million and the involvement of over 300 leading experts in diabetes, this is one of the world’s leading initiatives in this area focusing on overcoming key bottlenecks for novel therapies and improved disease management,’ the projects write in a press release announcing the MoU. ‘The importance of the findings of the IMI diabetes projects will be strongly increased by the multiple opportunities for information exchange now enabled by the implementation of a formal collaboration framework for the IMI Diabetes Platform.’ The projects have already been collaborating informally for some time. For example, they jointly organised a symposium to present their results at the recent annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in Barcelona.
PharmaTrain forms partnership with ACRES
IMI’s Education and Training project PharmaTrain and the Alliance for Clinical Research Excellence and Safety (ACRES), an international not-for-profit organisation for setting global clinical trial site standards (including improving education and training of professionals in medicines development), have joined forces in a Strategic Alliance. The goal is to promote the adoption of new and reliable global standards for high-quality postgraduate education and training for individuals pursuing careers in the discovery, development, regulation and marketing of new medicines.
Proposed projects within the framework of the Strategic Alliance include the development and dissemination of curriculum standards for educational programs and the implementation of a global quality assessment and recognition process for educational programmes and training courses as part of the shared infrastructure necessary for the multi-stakeholder integration of education in medicines development.
PharmaTrain has developed a rigorous approach to standards-based education and training achieved through the creation of a Syllabus of Medicines Development, which is aligned with the core competencies for scientists involved in medicines development. This approach will be disseminated and implemented worldwide through the alliance with ACRES. ‘Currently over 30 leading universities in Europe and North America have implemented the PharmaTrain curriculum - with ACRES, our new strategic partner, we intend to offer PharmaTrain to the world', comments PharmaTrain coordinator Dr Ingrid Klingmann of the European Forum on Good Clinical Practice (EFGCP).
- Read the full press release
NEWMEDS workshop on machine learning a success
Machine learning for neuroimaging was the focus of a successful workshop run by the NEWMEDS project in London. The goal of the workshop was to demonstrate the NEWMEDS machine learning toolbox which is designed for the analysis of clinical and pharmacological data. Participants also had the opportunity to try out the tool on their own data. According to workshop organiser Mick Brammer of King’s College London, machine learning is only starting to be used in imaging.
What sets NEWMEDS apart from other groups working on machine learning for imaging is the wide range of methods used. ‘Our main distinguishing feature has been to work closely with our neuroscience and pharma colleagues to introduce methods that are best suited to the problems that interest us,’ he explained. ‘Most imagers are not doing this but using the most common “off the shelf” method regardless of the problem.’ Feedback from the workshop was extremely positive, and the participants left feeling excited about using the toolbox in the future.
- The presentations from the workshop can be downloaded from the NEWMEDS website.
NEWMEDS presents findings at major neuropsychopharmacology congress
NEWMEDS researchers were out in force at the recent congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in Barcelona. Francesc Artigas of the Spanish National Research Council gave one of the event’s plenary lectures, where he presented NEWMEDS findings on the effects on brain activity of drugs used as models of schizophrenia, as well as mechanisms used by antipsychotic drugs to reverse these effects. Elsewhere, NEWMEDS researchers explained how they have identified the brain networks involved in schizophrenia, and uncovered new targets for antipsychotic drug development – both major goals for NEWMEDS. Finally, Jonathan Rabinowitz of Bar Ilan University in Israel led a brainstorming session on placebo controlled trials which featured a discussion on new approaches to reducing the placebo response in double blind trials.