- Investing in excellence – IMI offers SMEs VC networking opportunity
- IMI editorial in Science Translational Medicine
- Top Portuguese and Finnish Scientists to Lead IMI Scientific Committee
- EAPM launches survey on personalised medicine
- IMI video: Paving the way for new treatments for autism
- News from the projects
Investing in excellence – IMI offers SMEs VC networking opportunity
On 18 February 2014 IMI and the International Venture Club (IVC) will bring together health entrepreneurs, big pharma and specialised small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who have proven their strengths through their participation in an IMI project. The meeting will provide venture capitalists, industry investors and SMEs with chances to network and hear from specialists in the finance and investment sectors on their views for new opportunities for entrepreneurship within the life sciences. An initial look at how the IMI model of public-private partnership is addressing the challenges faced by the drug research and development community will provide the background to an interesting debate with expert panelists drawn from industry corporate investors. Participants can join in the discussion on the evolving big pharmaceutical company investment and funding models which focus increasingly on SMEs over the next five years.
Charlotte Howard, Healthcare Correspondent, The Economist will moderate a discussion with investment specialists from big pharma about future opportunities for SMEs. Other speakers include Carlo Incerti, member of the IMI Governing Board & Head of Global Medical Affairs, Genzyme; Jean David Malo of the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation -Directorate C3 for Financial Engineering; and Ruth McKernan, member of EFPIA’s Research Directors Group (RDG) & Chief Scientific Officer, Neusentis Unit, Pfizer. William Stevens, Founding & Managing Director, Europe Unlimited will moderate the final session which is a series of 'elevator pitches' from selected SMEs and venture capitalists attending the event.
- More information is available on the event page
IMI editorial in Science Translational Medicine
New frontiers for collaborative research are the subject of an editorial by Michel Goldman in the 18 December 2013 issue of Science Translational Medicine.
Translating biomedical discoveries into standards of care is essential to tackle the numerous unmet public health needs worldwide. This endeavour represents a tremendous challenge in times of severe financial constraints. New models of drug development and a stronger focus on patients are needed to translate promising research into therapies. As a public-private partnership, IMI offers an innovative model for collaboration in pharmaceutical research and development.
Taking stock of recent successes, IMI looks now to the future and is committed to moving the boundaries of translational medicine by integrating economic and societal challenges for a faster delivery of innovative therapies to patients.
Top Portuguese and Finnish Scientists to Lead IMI Scientific Committee
Professor Maria Beatriz da Silva Lima of the University of Lisbon in Portugal will be the new Chair of the IMI Scientific Committee. The Vice Chair will be Professor Markus Perola of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare. The pair were elected by the rest of the 12-strong committee. ‘The IMI Scientific Committee consists of some of the most skilled scientists in Europe, and being part of it is one of the highlights of my scientific career. To be appointed Chair is a great honour,’ said Professor da Silva Lima. Professor Perola added: ‘I am very excited about working for IMI. Public-private partnership is an underused tool in Europe, and I see a lot of potential in it to advance the health and welfare of all people.’
The Scientific Committee provides the IMI Governing Board and Executive Office with strategic, scientific advice, for example on the IMI research agenda and the annual scientific priorities (which form the basis of the Call topics). In addition, the Scientific Committee participates in the consultations on new topics for Calls for proposals, and plays an active role in reviews of ongoing IMI projects. Members are nominated by IMI’s States Representatives Group and appointed by the Governing Board.
EAPM launches survey on personalised medicine
The European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) is undertaking a survey to assess the current barriers to access personalised medical treatments across the EU. The survey is part of a horizontal study to identify key indicators and factors contributing to the use of and access to personalised medicine across the EU. The aim is to develop an EU Personalised Medicine Access Index from these key indicators and factors. The survey is divided into four sections: general, cancer, payment/reimbursement and general infrastructure. It should take around 15 minutes to complete and responses will remain completely anonymous.
The questions have been selected according to target groups to include patient groups, pathologists/oncologists, information technology, Member States, industry, healthcare professionals, insurance and health technology assessment (HTA) professionals. If you are one of the target groups mentioned, the EAPM is keen to have your views. You can find out more on the EAPM website where you will be able to select the appropriate survey related to your expertise.
- Closing date for responses: 11 February 2014
IMI video: Paving the way for new treatments for autism
Ongoing studies are set to identify common aspects among different autistic brains by comparing brain imaging information and establishing a picture of an autistic person’s brain. The goal is to improve diagnosis, by using information drawn from brain images coupled with clinical history.
EU-AIMS is bringing different stakeholders’ technology and knowledge together to tackle this complex disease.
Thanks to these major breakthroughs, today Europe is taking the lead in autism therapy research. Autism is a complex disease as it presents an extremely wide spectrum in its symptoms. It affects one in 100 children, and yet no specific treatment is available.
- Watch the EU-AIMS video
News from the projects
NEWMEDS reveals impact of schizophrenia genes in healthy carriers
Genetic variants associated with schizophrenia and autism still have an impact on cognitive skills and brain structure in people who carry the genes but do not suffer from these conditions, according to new research published in Nature by scientists from the NEWMEDS project. The findings add to our understanding of the risk factors that contribute to these conditions and could make it easier to study the neural and biochemical foundations of cognitive abilities. The team studied 27 genetic variants known to be associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia and/or autism. The results revealed that the cognitive abilities of healthy carriers of risk-associated genetic variants lie between those of schizophrenia patients and people without the risk variants. In addition, the brain scans showed that healthy carriers of the risk variants had brain abnormalities linked to schizophrenia and cognitive processes. The findings suggest that the cognitive abnormalities seen in people with schizophrenia are not necessarily a consequence of the disease; rather, having these cognitive problems may be a risk factor for the disease.
- Read the IMI press release on the study
DDMoRe launches new modelling languages
IMI data management project DDMoRe has launched a suite of new computer modelling languages designed to facilitate quantitative decision-making at all stages of drug development. Among other things, the project has developed a universal Modelling Description Language (MDL), which describes models and related tasks and is designed to be easily read and written by scientists. Related to the MDL are an Integrated Development Environment (MDL-IDE) and a new exchange language standard called the Pharmacometrics Markup Language (PharmML). The MDL-IDE provides a user-friendly framework where MDL code can be created and edited, while the new markup language PharmML will make it easier to exchange and reuse models/objects, annotations, and associated tasks. MDL, MDL-IDE, and PharmML are all under active development and the project is keen to gather feedback on these first releases from users outside the DDMoRe project.
- Read the DDMoRe press release on the new tools
- Provide feedback and suggestions on the new tools via the DDMoRe forum
Carole Goble of Open PHACTS receives prestigious British CBE award
Professor Carole Goble of IMI’s Open PHACTS project and the University of Manchester has been named as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to science in the UK’s New Year honours list.
Professor Goble said she was ‘thrilled and honoured to receive this award as a recognition of e-science, and a recognition of the outstanding work of the team at Manchester carried out with many collaborators.’
Carole Goble is a proud co-investigator in IMI’s Open PHACTS project. Open PHACTS is a linked data platform and knowledge base of integrated pharmacological data to facilitate drug discovery. She is a full professor in the School of Computer Science in the University of Manchester, UK. She has an international reputation in the semantic web, e-science and distributed computing and has worked closely with life scientists for many years. Since 2001 she has directed the myGrid project which has produced, amongst other resources, the widely-used Taverna workflow management system, the BioCatalogue for Web Services and the SEEK data and model management system for Systems Biology. She is a co-founder of the UK's Software Sustainability Institute and the deputy director of the UK node of ELIXIR.
In 2008 Carole was awarded the Microsoft Jim Gray e-Science award for outstanding contributions to e-Science.
Open PHACTS Target Dossier application provides new answers
Open PHACTS recently launched its Target Dossier application (app) which was developed by project partners, the National Centre for Cancer Research (CNIO) in Spain. This new app allows researchers the ability to work on a specific question or hypothesis using a single entry point to the Open PHACTS integrated data platform. The main goal for the new app is to provide easy access to integrated drug targets data to identify the most productive points for therapeutic intervention. It relies on the Open PHACTS integrated data platform and APIs [application programming interfaces] developed by the consortium. The app allows researchers to explore the interaction between pharmacological, interactive and pathway data through a simple ‘search and browse’ function. This gives researchers a totally new approach for testing their hypotheses using all three types of data in a combined search. The answers are shown in dynamic graphs which offer a clear visual representation of the search results. Users can go on to manipulate the data in a virtual ‘playground’ area, meaning new hypotheses can be tested from re-working the search results.
Breaking new ground for diabetic macrovascular complication treatment
Scientists from the IMI project SUMMIT have shed new light on the causes and development of atherosclerosis in diabetes. Diabetic patients often suffer from a widespread and aggressive form of atherosclerosis, with a high risk for myocardial infarction, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. Despite the enormous burden caused to patients, the molecular mechanisms leading to accelerated damage are still unclear.
Led by Professor Maria Gomez, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have made a giant step forward in unveiling the causes and development of atherosclerosis in diabetic mice. Specifically, the team revealed that a protein called nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) causes atherosclerosis in diabetic mice. Furthermore, when the team blocked the activity of NFAT, this halted progression of the atherosclerosis. The researchers also believe that these findings may constitute a novel therapeutic target to reverse diabetic macrovascular complications.
SUMMIT is one of the three research consortia in IMI’s Diabetes Platform, together with DIRECT (DIabetes REsearCh on patient stratification) and IMIDIA (Innovative Medicines Initiative for Diabetes). SUMMIT’s key objective is to develop procedures, technologies and tools to make clinical trials testing of novel medications in diabetic complications shorter and more focused.