- Draft future Call topics published online
- IMI2 - Call 20 deadline extended
- Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on IMI projects
- Got COVID-19 patient data? Want to collaborate? IMI’s EHDEN project can help you standardise it.
- IMI networks are helping set up and run COVID-19 drug trials
- INNODIA set to speed up clinical trials for type 1 diabetes drugs
- New tools and trials combat the resurgence of whooping cough
- PHAGO partner looks to patent new culturing technique for deriving microglia from stem cells
- 700 people with age-related macular degeneration recruited for MACUSTAR clinical study
- A look back on the socio-economic impact of IMI projects
Draft future Call topics published online
Tackling cancer through artificial intelligence, antimicrobial resistance, neurodegenerative diseases, rare disease diagnosis, clinical trial data, and patient adherence are the topics proposed for IMI’s next Calls for proposals.
We have published the draft texts of the topics that are slated for inclusion in IMI’s next Calls for proposals, IMI2 – Calls 22 and 23, on the Future Topics page of our website. The Calls are both scheduled for launch on 23 June 2020.
IMI2 – Call 22 is a single-stage Call for proposals designed to support research activities that will build on, and add value to, results from certain ongoing IMI2 projects. IMI2 – Call 23 is a standard, two-stage Call for proposals with the following topics:
- Returning clinical trial data to study participants within a GDPR compliant and approved framework
- Modelling the impact of monoclonal antibodies and vaccines on the reduction of antimicrobial resistance
This topic is part of IMI’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Accelerator programme.
- A platform for accelerating biomarker discovery and validation to support therapeutics development for neurodegenerative diseases
- Optimal treatment for patients with solid tumours in Europe through artificial intelligence
- Shortening the path to rare disease diagnosis by using new born genetic screening and digital technologies
- Behavioural model of factors affecting patient adherence
We will hold webinars on the Calls in the second half of June; registration for these will open in May.
- Download the draft texts from the IMI Future Topics page
- Find out about the IMI Call process, including how topics are generated
IMI2 - Call 20 deadline extended
The deadline for IMI2 – Call 20 has been extended to 12 May, to give consortia additional time to prepare their short proposals while travel is practically impossible and working conditions are challenging due to the coronavirus. IMI2 – Call 20 was launched in January and has the following topics:
- Early diagnosis, prediction of radiographic outcomes and development of rational, personalised treatment strategies to improve long-term outcomes in psoriatic arthritis
- Innovations to accelerate vaccine development and manufacture
- Academia and industry united innovation and treatment for tuberculosis (UNITE4TB)
- Tumour plasticity
- Proton versus photon therapy for oesophageal cancer – a trimodality strategy
- Handling of protein drug products and stability concerns
Find out more
Addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on IMI projects
At the IMI Programme Office, we are very conscious of the fact that the COVID-19 outbreak poses significant challenges for IMI projects.
The Frequently Asked Questions section of the Funding and Tenders portal now includes answers to a number of questions on the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on ongoing Horizon 2020 projects, including:
- What happens to costs in Horizon 2020 grants when there are difficulties in implementing the action due to the Covid-19 situation?
- Is there any possibility to extend the project duration of Horizon 2020 grants due to the Covid-19 situation?
- Related to the Covid-19 outbreak, how will the funding bodies handle possible delays in submitting deliverables and reports in Horizon 2020 grants?
The Funding and Tenders Portal also features a European Research Area corona platform, which lists all updates on Horizon 2020 Call deadlines; a link to the FAQ; and news and information about initiatives and organisations fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
Still got questions? Contact your project’s Scientific Officer at the IMI Programme Office.
Got COVID-19 patient data? Want to collaborate? IMI’s EHDEN project can help you standardise it.
EHDEN is offering to harmonise organisations’ clinical data to a standard model, while preserving patients’ privacy. This will make it easier to aggregate and jointly analyse data from different sources, something that is essential if we are to stop the outbreak and save lives.
Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, hospitals and clinics around the world have captured vast amounts of data on the disease in patients’ healthcare records. This data, like most healthcare data, is stored in separate databases and different formats, and this drastically limits its usefulness for research. Now EHDEN is offering its expertise to organisations that have amassed data from COVID-19 patients and want help converting it to a standardised data format so that it can be used as part of wider studies on the disease. They have launched a ‘Call for data partners’ through which organisations with clinical data on COVID-19 can apply to benefit from this offer. Organisations have until 14 May to apply; a panel of bioinformatics experts will review the applications as they are received.
Successful applicants will receive a grant from EHDEN of up to EUR 50 000 to support the work they will need to carry out to assist with the data harmonisation process. They will also be invited to participate in COVID-19 research studies to accelerate our understanding of how to combat this pandemic and improve patient outcomes, as well as the ongoing study-a-thon.
‘We will provide financial and technical support to assist with harmonising your data to the OMOP common data model, with a view to linking Data Partners together and with researchers for quicker open science on SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19,’ the project says.
IMI networks are helping set up and run COVID-19 drug trials
A study of potential coronavirus treatments, announced in March by the French national institute of health and medical research (INSERM), is receiving support from an IMI-funded network of clinical trial sites and laboratories. The INSERM coordinators contacted the team behind the IMI-funded COMBACTE-NET project to help recruit patients with COVID-19 and coordinate the clinical sites involved in the multicentre, multi-country study. DisCoVery is a large, international, open randomised trial studying a number of drugs that could prove effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
‘These are drugs that in the lab in vitro and in animal models have an effect on the virus, but we don't know whether that effect can also be reproduced in the patient,’ says Marc Bonten from University Medical Centre Utrecht and academic leader for COMBACTE-NET. ‘What (INSERM) needed was to be able to identify the sites that could move rapidly because this is a race against the clock. We were able to identify in our network the sites that we think can manage this problem of having this set up in in a few weeks’ time.’
COMBACTE-NET will also contribute to the new H2020 project RECOVER; COMBACTE-NET’s established clinical and laboratory networks will be used to study disease spectrum and severity, risk factors, spread and outcomes of COVID-19 in patients in hospital care.
- The article in full
- Press release: Launch of a European clinical trial against COVID-19
- COMBACTE-NET website
INNODIA set to speed up clinical trials for type 1 diabetes drugs
The INNODIA project has developed a clinical trial master protocol, meaning launching new clinical trials for drugs to cure type 1 diabetes will be faster and easier. Before a clinical trial can start, the organisers have to submit the protocol of their study to regulatory authorities for approval. Preparing this protocol takes a lot of time.
To speed up the process, INNODIA has developed a master protocol for certain clinical trials of treatments that could potentially stop type 1 diabetes. ‘The idea of a master protocol is that rather than starting off with a new protocol every time you want to do one of these studies, you have a protocol that can be re-used for different studies – a recyclable protocol,’ explains David Dunger, of the University of Cambridge, who led INNODIA’s work on the master protocol. The basic design would always be the same, but what would change would be the annex describing the drug (or drugs) under investigation and the minor modifications needed to assess safety and efficacy.
The INNODIA clinical trial master protocol is specifically designed for phase 2 clinical trials of people who have just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Most significantly, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has given its green light to the master protocol, something that Professor Dunger describes as ‘a major step forward’. INNODIA is now set to use the protocol for its own clinical trials.
Patients play a central role in INNODIA’s work and Professor Dunger describes the Patient Advisory Committee’s work on the master protocol as ‘fantastic’. He also emphasises the benefits for patients of using a master protocol to set up clinical trials.
‘I think the message for the patients is that in the future we will see a very much better organised and timely way of doing studies, which will get more studies done, quicker, and coming up with the right drugs,’ he concludes.
- Read the full story
- Visit the INNODIA website
- Watch project coordinator Chantal Mathieu’s video message on the impacts of COVID-19 on the project
New tools and trials combat the resurgence of whooping cough
Researchers from IMI’s PERISCOPE project hope a greater understanding of interactions between pertussis bacteria and the immune system, together with a toolkit for testing new vaccines, will help prevent whooping cough disease and deaths in babies worldwide. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. Although there is a vaccine, cases are on the rise.
PERISCOPE aims to expedite the development of a new generation of vaccines by better understanding the immune responses that mediate long-lasting protective immunity against B. pertussis. A new tool developed by PERISCOPE researchers – the ‘human challenge model’ – has already revealed that the bacterium can lie dormant for some days in the nose and throat of healthy adults, even if they have already been immunised.
‘PERISCOPE’s partners, in particular Sanofi Pasteur and GlaxoSmithKline – the two world leaders in whooping cough vaccine manufacturing – are already making use of the information and technologies generated by the project. Their aim is to inform and accelerate the development of their own pertussis vaccine candidates,’ explains project coordinator Ronald de Groot of Radboud University in the Netherlands.
‘Public sharing of this information is also ongoing, so the wider pertussis research community can also benefit.’
PHAGO partner looks to patent new culturing technique for deriving microglia from stem cells
An SME partner in the IMI PHAGO project has filed a patent application with the European Patent Office for an improved protocol for generating high numbers of human microglia, implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
Microglia are thought to play an important role in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s. To understand more about their function, researchers in PHAGO looked at genetically distinct iPSCs generated from the blood of patients with Alzheimer’s, and microglia derived from them. This technique is technically challenging and cumbersome.
LIFE & BRAIN GmbH, who is co-leading the project’s work package on iPSC models, has now developed an improved method that involves new types of material, using patient cells collected by the team at King's College London. The new method enables bioreactor-based expansion and can yield very high numbers of iPSC-derived microglia.
This technique not only facilitates biomedical research; it might also offer new perspectives for a possible immunotherapeutic approach to treat patients with a genetic disposition to Alzheimer’s. In the PHAGO project, 40 iPSC lines have already been generated from donors that carry several different genetic mutations in the TREM2 or CD33 gene. PHAGO is working with the IMI initiative EBiSC (European Bank for Induced pluripotent Stem Cells) to make these cell lines accessible to researchers via the EBiSC catalogue.
Note: this article was corrected on 5 June - the cells lines are not yet accessible via the EBiSC catalogue, but EBiSC and PHAGO are working together to make this possible.
700 people with age-related macular degeneration recruited for MACUSTAR clinical study
The MACUSTAR project has completed recruitment of over 700 people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) for a clinical study. The objective of the study is to develop endpoints for the intermediate form of the disease (intermediate age-related macular degeneration, or iAMD).
Late-stage AMD is one of the major blinding diseases for elderly people. Today, a large proportion of the elderly population across Europe is already affected by the disease, as studies involving large cohorts indicate. With current demographic trends, the number of affected is expected to increase considerably. As the disease progresses from iAMD to late AMD, many are at high risk of severe visual loss.
One barrier to the development of new treatments that could delay or stop the progression of the disease is the lack of tests that can determine the effectiveness of treatments being developed. The objective of MACUSTAR is to provide the much-needed tools that can analyse the efficacy of new treatments in clinical trials. The project intends to develop and validate functional, structural as well as patient-reported outcome measures for iAMD that are clinically meaningful and acceptable to regulatory agencies and payers. Risk factors for progression from iAMD to late AMD will also be investigated.
A look back on the socio-economic impact of IMI projects
Since its inception, IMI has supported almost 150 different research projects. That’s 150 teams of problem-solvers working together in the spirit of what we like to think of as ‘radical collaboration’. For 12 years, these projects have been producing toolboxes of new technologies, spreading best practices, training, skill-building and sharing not just their knowledge but also their valuable data.
Their results have had a real impact on medicines development, helping European medicine developers better understand diseases, identify targets for new drugs, build biobanks, validate biomarkers and models, and much more. They’ve also had a big socio-economic impact, meaning they’ve been shown to have a positive effect on society, business and public policy.
Some of the projects that were launched in the early days of the partnership are still going strong in one form or another, and their lasting impact can be seen through follow-on projects, start-ups that were born from the outcomes of the projects, or innovative tools that have become staples in the medicines development community.
To pay homage to the longevity of those projects, and to celebrate our birthday (IMI turns 12 in April) IMI is featuring some of these projects on Twitter. Read more about them (and view the tweets) in the following news items: