- Pierre Meulien takes over as IMI Executive Director
- Coming soon – IMI 2 – Call 6
- Sign up for the Call 6 webinars
- IMI research world class, report reveals
- iABC project on inhaled antibiotics gets underway
- Launch of ADAPT-SMART puts MAPPs in the spotlight
- IMI APPROACH project takes on osteoarthritis
- News from the projects
Pierre Meulien takes over as IMI Executive Director
Pierre Meulien, IMI’s new Executive Director has arrived and, as he explains in an interview, he’s excited to be here! Asked why he decided to apply for the IMI post, he cites the immense challenge faced by most countries worldwide in translating the latest knowledge created in the academic world into useful things in terms of healthcare systems and healthcare delivery. ‘A complex number of stakeholders need to be brought together to work out how to do this in a cost-efficient manner so that people can benefit from the latest scientific knowledge in a timely manner,’ he explains. ‘IMI seems to me to represent a neutral platform for debates to occur and for real innovations to be developed and implemented. It is also a joint venture between the public and private sectors, and I think this is an absolutely key element for efficient translation to succeed.’ The sheer scale of IMI is also an important factor. ‘We can dabble in this or we can really put some heavy duty resources together, and I’m not only talking about the financial resources, which are considerable, but the resources in terms of expertise specific to the public and private sectors,’ he says. ‘I think that’s the key, and for me IMI is the only game in town. I think it really is the best model in the world for this to happen.’
Coming soon – IMI 2 – Call 6
The following topics are set to be included in IMI 2 – Call 6, which will be launched shortly.
- Development of Quantitative System Toxicology (QST) approaches to improve the understanding of the safety of new medicines
- Establishing impact of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) infection, resultant disease and public health approach to reducing the consequences
Topics under the Big Data for Better Outcomes programme:
- Real World Outcomes Across the AD (Alzheimer’s disease) Spectrum (ROADS) to Better Care
- Development of an outcomes-focused platform to empower policy makers and clinicians to optimise care for patients with haematologic malignancies
Download the indicative topic text from the Future Topics page
Sign up for the Call 6 webinars
From 5 to 16 October 2015, IMI will hold webinars on each topic of the upcoming IMI 2 Call 6, as well as one webinar on IMI 2 rules and procedures. All webinars on the Call topics will feature a presentation by the EFPIA topic coordinator and time for questions and answers. These webinars represent an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Call topics, interact directly with the topic coordinators, and get in touch with potential project partners. The webinar on IMI’s new rules and procedures will also include presentations of IMI's intellectual property policy and tips on the preparation of proposal submissions. The schedule is as follows (all times are Central European Summer Time / Brussels time):
- Establishing impact of RSV infection, resultant disease and public health approach to reducing the consequences: Monday 5 October 2015, 15:00 - 16:30
- Development of quantitative system toxicology (QST) approaches to improve the understanding of the safety of new medicines: Friday 9 October 2015, 14:30 - 16:00
- Real world outcomes across the AD spectrum (ROADS) to better care (part of the IMI2 big data for better outcomes programme): Tuesday 13 October 2015, 15:00 - 16:30
- IMI Rules and Procedures: Thursday 15 October 2015, 15:00 - 16:30
- Development of an outcomes-focused platform to empower policy makers and clinicians to optimise care for patients with haematologic malignancies (Part of the IMI2 Big Data for Better Outcomes Programme): Friday 16 October 2015, 14:30 - 16:00
Registration is obligatory. Links to the registration forms for each webinar can be found on the webinar page.
IMI research world class, report reveals
The excellence of research supported by IMI is confirmed by a detailed analysis of scientific papers produced by IMI projects. The analysis, carried out by Thomson Reuters, demonstrates that IMI-funded research measures up well against research supported by other high-profile funding organisations like the Wellcome Trust and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Meanwhile a letter published in Nature Biotechnology by IMI and others sets out how this report fits in to IMI’s wider efforts to evaluate its achievements.
- Download the full bibliometric analysis report
- Download the executive summary
- Read the press release
iABC project on inhaled antibiotics gets underway
The iABC (‘Inhaled antibiotics in bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis’) project has been launched with the goal of advancing the development of inhaled antibiotics for patients with bronchiectasis and cystic fibrosis. Respiratory infections, frequently caused by drug-resistant bacteria, are the main cause of disease and death in people with these diseases. Thanks to inhaled antibiotics, patients now live longer than ever before and enjoy a better quality of life. However, infections are increasingly becoming resistant to the few drugs available, putting patients’ lives at risk. The iABC project is advancing the development of two inhaled antibiotics for patients with CF and BE. It is also working to identify ways of improving clinical trials of treatments for these serious diseases. The project has a total budget of over €50 million. The launch of iABC marks the completion of the New Drugs for Bad Bugs programme, which now includes seven projects and has a total budget of almost €700 million, equivalent to around a third of the total budget for the IMI 1 programme.
Launch of ADAPT-SMART puts MAPPs in the spotlight
The new ADAPT SMART project, launched at the beginning of September, will establish a platform to enable the coordination of Medicines Adaptive Pathways to Patients (MAPPs) related activities within IMI and engaging a dialogue with relevant stakeholders.
MAPPs refers to a flexible development and access pathway within the current regulatory framework that seeks to foster access to beneficial treatments for the right patient groups at the earliest appropriate time in the product life-span in a sustainable fashion. The ADAPT SMART project will:
- Identify scientific challenges and opportunities related to MAPPs implementation, taking account of tools, methodologies and infrastructures developed in IMI projects and other initiatives
- Support new IMI 2 research and innovation actions by facilitating the inclusion of MAPPs enablers (tools and methodologies) to address/exploit the identified challenges and opportunities
- Conduct horizon scanning relevant to MAPPs to create a comprehensive repository of knowledge and opportunities for coordination
As such it will lay the foundations for putting MAPPs into practice. ADAPT SMART has a total budget of €3.8 million.
- Read the press release on the launch
IMI APPROACH project takes on osteoarthritis
Work has begun on the IMI project APPROACH, which has a €15 million budget and the goal of stimulating research to develop much-needed medicines for osteoarthritis. Among the over 60s, osteoarthritis is estimated to affect around 10% of men and 18% of women worldwide. However, developing treatments for this debilitating condition is challenging, in part because it is difficult to know which patients will respond best to which drug. APPROACH will draw on existing studies to create a platform with data for over 10 000 patients and healthy controls. This will allow the project to develop and validate diagnostic tools and identify different sub-groups of patients who could be enrolled into clinical trials for new osteoarthritis drugs. Ultimately the project hopes that its findings will result in more personalised treatments for people with osteoarthritis.
- Read the press release
News from the projects
EMIF study uncovers ageing clues
Scientists from IMI’s EMIF project were part of a major study that paves the way for a simple test of how well a person is ageing. The findings, published in Genome Biology, could help to identify people at greatest risk of diseases associated with ageing, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists studied the extent to which various genes were activated in thousands of human tissue samples. They found that the activation of some 150 genes in the blood, brain and muscle tissue represented a good marker of health in people who were 65 years old. The scientists were then able to turn this information into a simple formula to assess how well someone is ageing compared to other people of the same age. People with a poor score showed signs of cognitive impairment, suggesting that the research could be turned into a simple blood test to identify people who could be at risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. This is a major goal of the EMIF project.
- Read a press release on the research from the Medical Research Council.
NEWMEDS study reveals neural basis of multitasking
An international team of scientists has revealed how brains handle multitasking. The study, which included researchers from IMI’s NEWMEDS project on schizophrenia and depression, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings will help us to better understand diseases where the ability to multitask is impaired, such as schizophrenia and dementia, and could ultimately aid in the development of new treatments. In the study, 344 healthy people switched between two tasks while undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain. The scientists assessed how the participants’ brain networks reconfigured themselves when switching between tasks. They found that the participants who were best at multitasking, flicking between the tasks with ease, showed greater rearrangement of the connections both within the frontal cortex (which is responsible for control over our thoughts and actions) and between the frontal cortex and other parts of the brain. ‘A signification motivation for our research is to understand disruptions to the dynamic of neural networks that are associated with psychiatric disorders,’ said Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg of the Central Institute for Mental Health in Mannheim, Germany. ‘This study underlines the potential of modern neuroscientific methods for basic psychiatric research.’
- Read press releases on the finding from the Central Institute for Mental Health (in German) and the University of Pennsylvania
Open PHACTS project scoops open data prize
The ELDC recognises Europe’s top linked data and semantic web achievements. Prizes are awarded for novel and innovative projects, products and industry implementations involving linked data. The ELDC also aims to build a directory of Europe’s top linked data and semantic web projects.
An international jury picked Open PHACTS as the winner, judging that the project excelled in all aspects of the competition’s assessment criteria, which cover innovation, networking, the use of open standards, technological maturity, the potential for use in multiple domains, and the level of comprehensibility for users and the public.
‘It is fantastic to see the successes of the Open PHACTS project recognised by the ELDC in this award,’ said project Managing Entity Gerhard Ecker of the University of Vienna. ’Over the course of this project we have been proud to deliver an unprecedented data integration infrastructure to support drug discovery research, thanks to the unparalleled range of expertise of our consortium members. We look forward to continuing to build on these achievements through the successor organisation to this project, the Open PHACTS Foundation.’
- Read the Open PHACTS press release
- Find out more about the awards
- Read the Open PHACTS entry to the competition
Giant steps forward in Ebola vaccine quest, but research must continue
Earlier this summer, researchers announced in The Lancet that an Ebola vaccine developed with Merck had shown 100% effectiveness in a Phase III clinical trial of over 7 000 people in Guinea. This is one of the potential vaccines being developed for the disease, and researchers say that work must continue.
IMI’s VSV-EBOVAC project is studying in detail the signatures of immune responses elicited in humans by the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine using cutting-edge technologies combining in-depth human immune, transcriptomics and metabolomics profiling in relation to safety and immunogenicity.
One of the outstanding questions – which VSV-EBOVAC hopes to answer once enough time has elapsed since the Phase I trial, started in November 2014 – is how long the immunisation remains effective.
Many believe that the Merck vaccine should be used to protect those at high risk in areas still affected by Ebola. However, it may take months for approval by authorities.
The timing means that these vaccines under development are unlikely to have much of an impact on the current epidemic. However, these vaccines have been developed at unprecedented speed, and the work being done lays down techniques that could be used in similar fast-moving epidemics.
- To find out more, read the Horizon Magazine article
COMBACTE-CARE antibiotic study forges US link
Antibiotic research and development was given a boost recently by the announcement that the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) would fund clinical studies of a novel antibiotic combination product called Aztreonam-Avibactam (ATM-AVI). ATM-AVI is designed to tackle certain antibiotic infections that are particularly tough to treat. In Europe, IMI is supporting clinical studies of ATM-AVI through the COMBACTE-CARE project. The funding from BARDA will support additional studies needed to advance the development of this urgently-needed treatment.
NEWMEDS scientist receives neuropsychopharmacology award
Dr Francesc Artigas is the recipient of the 2015 Neuropsychopharmacology Award by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of systems neuropharmacology. The award is presented annually and recognises distinguished research in neuropsychopharmacology and closely related disciplines. Dr Artigas is a member of the IMI NEWMEDS project, aimed at finding new methods for the development of drugs for schizophrenia and depression. He picked up his prize at the recent ECNP congress in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
A leader in the study of the mechanism of action of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, Francesc Artigas is Chair of the Department of Neurochemistry and Neuropharmacology at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas de Barcelona of the Spanish Research Council (CSIC).
- Find out more via the ECNP press release and on the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) website
Journal Nature highlights IMI’s projects on education and training
‘The ongoing IMI projects on education and training aim to promote lifelong learning and continuing professional development among all biomedical professionals,’ reads a recent letter in the scientific journal Nature. The article highlights IMI’s effort to strengthen the skills of biomedical professionals in Europe.
LifeTrain is IMI’s education and training projects’ pan-European framework for continuing professional development in the biomedical sciences, which will enable all biomedical professionals to work collaboratively across disciplines and national boundaries.
By integrating the strengths and competencies of employers, professional and scientific bodies, course providers and individual scientists, IMI’s projects on education and training are helping to develop a framework for implementing the cross-disciplinary and team-based modern research.
By providing guidance and information, the projects help biomedical professionals to recognise the competencies that they will need as their careers progress and encourage scientists to think beyond traditional disciplinary silos.
GetReal workshops promote discussion on use of real-world evidence
IMI’s GetReal consortium has run the first five workshops bringing together stakeholders to discuss the use of real-world evidence for demonstrating the effectiveness of new drugs. Workshop participants have included so far: patients, clinicians, academic specialists, clinical trialists, pharmaceutical company representatives, regulators, health technology assessment (HTA) bodies and payers. Collaboration between these diverse stakeholders is paramount for the success of this project and this is the first time many of the participants have worked together in a collaborative environment. By demonstrating that participation is both safe and beneficial, GetReal has successfully created a new platform for interlocutors to engage and share new ideas.
Each workshop includes up to 40 participants and the outputs will inform the delivery of a framework which will outline the potential uses of real-world evidence at different stages of medicine development. The workshops are part of case studies in the following disease areas:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Non-small cell lung cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Metastatic melanoma
Launched in October 2013, GetReal is a three-year project which aims to show how robust new methods for real-world evidence collection and synthesis could be adopted earlier in pharmaceutical research and the healthcare decision-making process.
Join eTRIKS in Amsterdam for its community meeting
IMI data management project eTRIKS will hold a community meeting in Amsterdam on 22 October. The event represents an excellent opportunity to learn about the eTRIKS project and the services it offers to IMI and other projects. A highlight of the event will be a review of how eTRIKS works with the IMI project ABIRISK. ABIRISK’s goal is to enhance our understanding of safety issues surrounding medicines based on biological molecules such as proteins and monoclonal antibodies. eTRIKS has set up a specific tranSMART tool for ABIRISK partners, onto which ABIRISK data has been curated, uploaded, stored and analysed. The meeting will also mark the launch of the eTRIKS Labs, an online space where new projects will be made available for review and feedback. According to the project, eTRIKS Labs will make it easier to co-create tools, services, training and guidelines for translational research.
- Register here