Ebola projects launched
IMI is launching the first eight projects of its Ebola+ programme, to accelerate all aspects of vaccine development and manufacturing as well as deployment and compliance with vaccine regimens and diagnostics. The eight projects were selected from proposals submitted under IMI’s first Ebola+ Call for proposals, which was launched in November 2014. The projects will have a total budget of €215 million, part of which comes from Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, and part of which comes in the form of in-kind contributions from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) partners in the projects. Of the eight projects, three will focus on the development of Ebola vaccines; one will work on scaling up vaccine manufacture; one will develop strategies to promote compliance with vaccine regimens; and three aim to develop rapid diagnostic tests that can be used at the point of care and at major infrastructures like airports.
Webinar presentations online
IMI has now held webinars on all topics of IMI 2 – Calls 3 and 4, as well as on the new IMI 2 rules and procedures. Presentations from all webinars can be found on the webinar web page. Meanwhile all documents relating to the Calls can be found on the respective Call pages. Potential applicants are strongly advised to read all documents carefully, and contact the IMI office if you feel anything is unclear.
Patients in IMI projects - a guide
As part of its efforts to promote the involvement of patients in its projects and activities, IMI has produced a short guide on the subject. The guide offers practical advice covering all stages of project development and implementation for:
- patient groups on how to get involved in IMI projects;
- other applicants on how best to involve patients when preparing and implementing projects.
It also highlights specific ideas as to how patients can get involved in the topics launched under IMI 2 – Calls 3 and 4. A number of IMI projects already involve patients, while the EUPATI project is devoted to training up patients to help them engage more effectively in research.
Impact of IMI projects’ papers
The latest report analysing the scientific publications produced by IMI’s projects reveals that the average citation impact (a measure of how often papers are cited by other papers) of IMI papers is well over twice the world average. Furthermore, the average citation index compares favourably with that of other major medical research funding bodies, such as the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council. The report, compiled by Thomson Reuters, also shows that over a quarter of all IMI papers are ‘highly cited’ (i.e. when ranked by number of citations, they are in the top 10% of papers per category and per year of publication).
The report also analyses different ways of measuring just how collaborative researchers in IMI projects are. It does this by looking at the fraction of publications with authors in different sectors (e.g. industry and academia) and different countries. It also assesses the intensity of collaborations between pairs of collaborating organisations.
New IMI Alzheimer’s project
January saw the official launch of the new IMI project EPAD, which will pave the way for a new way of carrying out clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease. Over the next five years, the project team will establish a Europe-wide register of 24 000 participants, of which 1 500 will be invited to participate in a trial to test new treatments for the prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia. The project partners will initially develop a platform based on information from existing patient cohorts or register studies, which have already identified potential patients. Researchers will use these records to select a group of 1 500 people who are likely to develop dementia, but have not yet been diagnosed. This group will participate in a Phase 2 clinical trial in various European countries. At the end of the study, all data collected from the cohort and trial will become publically available for analysis to improve disease models in the pre-dementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease.
Commenting on the launch, Jean Georges of project partner Alzheimer Europe said: ‘Preventing the development of dementia in biomarker-positive people would be a fantastic step forward in our fight against Alzheimer’s dementia. The EPAD project and its novel trial concept will hopefully help speed up the drug discovery progress and bring us closer to this ambitious aim.’
News from the projects
EU-AIMS scientist wins prestigious award
Professor Peter Scheiffele of the Biozentrum at the University of Basel in Switzerland, a participant in IMI’s autism project EU-AIMS, has been awarded the prestigious Robert Bing Prize by the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences. The prize is awarded biannually to young scientists who have done ‘outstanding work which has helped in the recognition, treatment and cure of neurological diseases’ and who will be encouraged by the prize to do further research in this area. The CHF 60 000 (approx. EUR 60 000) prize money comes from a fund set up by Swiss neurologist Robert Bing (1878-1956). The Biozentrum contributes to EU-AIMS with research on animal models of autism-spectrum disorders using advanced genetics, physiology and imaging approaches, among others.
EUPATI Patient Expert Training Course – applications now open!
Applications are now open for the second round of the EUPATI Patient Expert Training Course, which offers 50 patients and patient advocates expert-level training in medicines research and development. The course features a mix of independent e-learning coursework and face-to-face training and will run for 14 months (from September 2015 to November 2016). By the end of the course, participants will have the knowledge needed to make meaningful contributions to patient empowerment and advocacy and to contribute to the broader dialogue on patient involvement in medicines research and development across Europe. The first round of the EUPATI Expert Training Course kicked off in October last year and will run until the end of 2015.
- Deadline for applications: 31 March 2015
- View the guide for applicants
- Learn more about the EUPATI project
Open PHACTS paper highlights benefit of platform for drug discovery
The IMI Open PHACTS project’s online data platform can help to speed up drug discovery in many ways, as demonstrated by the diverse examples set out in two recent papers published in PLoS ONE and Drug Discovery Today. Open PHACTS has created an online, open access platform that uses semantic web technology to allow scientists to easily access and process data from multiple sources to rapidly solve real-world drug discovery problems. In these papers, the project partners explain how the platform can be used to deliver rapid results for a number of case studies based around common challenges in drug development. In all cases, manually checking multiple databases one by one would be very time consuming. ‘We hope to encourage the use of the [Open PHACTS] technology to a wide research audience to increase the productivity of both academic and industrial drug discovery projects,’ the authors write in PLoS ONE. Looking to the future, Open PHACTS is planning on integrating additional data, something that will enhance the types of queries that the platform can handle.
DDMoRe to run course on models in drug development
The DDMoRe project is launching a series of courses introducing the principles of model-informed drug development, covering a range of therapeutic areas, via the newly-developed DDMoRe interoperability framework platform.
The first course, ‘Model-informed drug development in oncology (beginners)’ will be held in Berlin in March. Designed for PhD students and postdocs, the course will cover model-informed anti-cancer drug development and will include an introduction to the DDMoRe framework (new modelling & simulation language, model repository, interoperability platform. The week long course will include lectures, group work, and student presentations.
The DDMoRe project is working to build and maintain a universally applicable, open source, model based framework, intended as the gold standard for future collaborative drug and disease modelling & simulation.
WEB-RADR discusses mobile technologies and pharmacovigilance
IMI’s WEB-RADR project has held its first workshop on the use of mobile technologies and social media in pharmacovigilance. The goal of the event was to lay the foundations for future collaboration with consumers, patients, healthcare professionals and medicines regulators throughout the WEB-RADR project. During the event, the 80 participants discussed issues such as:
- the application of mobile technologies to facilitate adverse drug reaction (ADR) reporting and access to information on medicines;
- the potential use of public social media as a data source together with analytical tools to supplement existing signal detection approaches;
- personal data protection and ethical considerations;
- the elaboration of recommendations to aid policy development on the future use of mobile technologies and social media as new tools in pharmacovigilance.
The goal of the WEB-RADR project is to develop a mobile app for patients and healthcare professionals to report suspected adverse drug reactions to national EU regulators, and investigate the potential for publicly available social media data for identifying drug safety issues.