- IMI Stakeholder Forum 2020 – over 600 registrations and counting
- IMI puts the spotlight on SMEs
- IMI’s Pierre Meulien talks COVID-19, vaccines, and lessons learnt from IMI in Pharma Boardroom interview
- COVID-19, the environment and obesity among topics of latest IMI projects
- IMI projects continue to contribute to COVID research efforts
IMI Stakeholder Forum 2020 – over 600 registrations and counting
Over 600 people have already registered for the IMI Stakeholder Forum on 10 November. The theme of the event, which will be held online, is ‘Broader horizons: growing Europe’s health partnership’.
Recently confirmed speakers include Jean-Eric Paquet, Director General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, and Portuguese MEP Maria da Graça Carvalho, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, as well as the Special Committee on Artificial Intelligence in a Digital Age.
The event will take stock of what IMI has achieved, and high level speakers will explore what has worked well and what could be improved in the potential new health partnership under Horizon Europe.
The new partnership is set to include a wider range of industrial partners, beyond the pharmaceutical industry. The event will use paediatric cancer as a case study to explore how this collaboration could work in practice.
Registration is free but obligatory. People who have already registered will receive details of how to access the Stakeholder Forum in the days before the event.
View the full agenda and register
- Visit the event web page
IMI puts the spotlight on SMEs
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have been in the spotlight in the IMI newsroom throughout October, as we’ve published a series of articles showing how IMI can help them meet their goals – and how they contribute in turn to IMI’s goals.
The biomedical sector is full of giants, but it’s the start-ups that connect the dots – an opinion piece by IMI’s Pierre Meulien
European universities generate impressive results, but to boost industrial growth, their discoveries need to be connected to the needs of industry. That’s where SMEs can come in, explains IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien in a new opinion piece on the IMI website. IMI brings start-ups together with industry giants in a mutually beneficial partnership that helps the EU pharmaceutical sector compete on the world stage, one of IMI’s principal objectives.
From start-up to scale-up: 4 ways IMI boosts small business
Of the more than 300 SMEs involved in IMI projects, the majority are partners in consortia, meaning that they benefit from IMI’s funding pot. But IMI has more than one way to help SMEs beyond cash infusions. A number of SME affiliates are actually contributing EFPIA partners, while others are commercial ‘spin-outs’ that owe their existence to entrepreneurs who spotted a market gap while carrying out research in a consortium. Finally, our projects even offer support to SMEs outside the IMI family who otherwise have no connection to our funded research.
Small firms can see big gains from joining forces with pharma
IMI brings SMEs into our projects to bridge the gap between universities and pharma giants on the hunt for innovations that will keep them competitive. For an SME, the attraction is not just about funding; being part of a consortium grants them unparalleled access to a network that includes their target market, explains an article about the benefits for SMEs of participating in IMI projects.
Screening, certification and technology ‘scans’… how IMI’s projects can help SMEs
Boosting the competitiveness of European SMEs is part of IMI’s mission, and directly channelling funding to SMEs through our research projects is the principal way this is achieved. However, since the beginning, the programme has been able to support non-project SMEs in other, indirect ways, as demonstrated by the European Lead Factory / ESCulab, EHDEN, and Trians@Home projects.
IMI’s Pierre Meulien talks COVID-19, vaccines, and lessons learnt from IMI in Pharma Boardroom interview
COVID-19, vaccines, and lessons learnt from running a large, long-term public-private partnership (PPP) like IMI are among the subjects touched on in an interview with IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien in Pharma Boardroom. Asked how IMI has balanced the response to COVID-19 with normal operations, he said: ‘In order to execute our COVID-19 response in an expedited manner, we had to reprioritise and basically turn our office upside down. We held emergency governing board meetings and our governing board quickly liberated EUR 72 million (USD 84 million) of public funding from our budgets, and industry partners in our projects committed a further EUR 45 million (USD 52 million). This was on top of having to adjust to remote working and other lockdown measures.’
On lessons learnt from IMI, he notes: ‘I always say that PPPs are not for everyone nor for everything – but for certain topics, they are the only way to make progress and tackle some huge challenges. What we have learnt from our experience here at IMI is that there are some essential elements that need to be present for a PPP to work. Fundamentally, there has to be alignment on the final goal, so that there is public money addressing a public health challenge, and the industry can be incentivized to come in and support because their expertise is necessary to develop solutions.’
Finally, on vaccines, he explains that the complexities of vaccine research and development make it a good area for PPPs to work.
Find out more:
- Read the full article
COVID-19, the environment and obesity among topics of latest IMI projects
In recent months, IMI has launched a number of new projects addressing topics as diverse as the coronavirus, tools for drug development, the environmental impact of medicines, and obesity.
KRONO: Currently, COVID-19 diagnostic tests need to be processed by an expert in a laboratory, and patients often have to wait at least a day for their results. KRONO aims to change that by delivering a simple test that can be used at a doctor’s office (for example) and would deliver results in just 40 minutes. factsheet | interview with the project
H2O: Today, many measures of disease (and disease outcomes) are based largely on input from clinicians. The aim of H2O is to create ‘health outcomes observatories’ that will amplify the patient voice both in their own healthcare and in healthcare systems more broadly. factsheet | website
EUbOPEN: The goal of EUbOPEN is to develop high quality chemical tool compounds for 1 000 human proteins. These tools will help in the study of diseases and the development of new, more targeted drugs. The project will make the tools openly available to the entire research community without restrictions on use. factsheet | website
PREMIER: Active ingredients from medicines can get into the environment through a variety of routes, and once there they can prove harmful to wildlife and ecosystems. The aim of PREMIER is to deliver a framework for assessing and characterising the environmental risks of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). factsheet
SOPHIA: People with obesity are at a greater risk of health complications like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The aim of the SOPHIA project is to improve our ability to predict who will experience which complications, and who will respond best to different obesity treatments. factsheet | website
HARMONY PLUS: Haematological malignancies, also known as blood cancers, are a diverse and complex group of diseases that are difficult to diagnose and treat. HARMONY PLUS builds on the work of the HARMONY project, adding further blood cancers to the list of diseases under study. factsheet | web page
INNODIA HARVEST: IMI’s INNODIA project has added significantly to our understanding of type 1 diabetes (T1D). The aim of INNODIA HARVEST is to build on INNODIA’s results by carrying out additional activities that will further pave the way for new treatments to treat or even prevent T1D. factsheet | web page
IMI projects continue to contribute to COVID research efforts
Although IMI now has a number of projects dedicated to tackling COVID-19, many older projects working in other areas are making valuable contributions to coronavirus research.
For example, IMI’s RADAR-CNS project is using wearable devices and mobile phones to monitor people with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and major depressive disorder. The hope is that by gathering data continuously via these devices, relapses in a patient’s condition could be predicted or even avoided. As countries across Europe shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, RADAR-CNS was able to use its systems to assess how people’s behaviour changed during and after lockdown. While mobility markers fell, virtual sociability rose, with participants spending more time active on their phones and using social media apps. Participants also had a lower heart rate, went to bed later, and slept more. ‘This ability to monitor response to interventions, in near real time, will be particularly important in understanding behavior as social distancing measures are relaxed as part of any COVID-19 exit strategy,’ the researchers note.
Elsewhere, a study by the SOPHIA project highlights experience of people with obesity during COVID-19 pandemic. Obesity has been identified as a risk factor for COVID-19 disease, but how do people living with obesity feel about the pandemic? The SOPHIA team interviewed 23 people undergoing diverse obesity treatments about their experience of living through the pandemic. Their findings, published in the journal Clinical Obesity, revealed that the pandemic affected both diets and physical activity. It also impacted on people’s psychosocial wellbeing, as people worried about what would happen if they caught the disease. At the same time, some patients were not aware of the link between obesity and COVID-19. Looking to the future, the researchers call for more research into the links between obesity and COVID-19, and note that this should be communicated in a way that does not stigmatise people with obesity.
Find out more
- Summaries of all IMI projects working on COVID-19 research can be found in this article
EUPATI project embarks on a new chapter
IMI patient education project EUPATI has set up an independent, non-profit foundation to build on the project’s work. The creation of the EUPATI Foundation secures the project’s legacy and paves the way for the further development of patient education resources in Europe and beyond.
EUPATI has pioneered patient education in medicines research and development. Close on 160 patient experts have completed the intensive, 14-month EUPATI course, and many graduates are actively applying their knowledge and skills in a wide array of organisations, projects and committees. The project’s multilingual online toolbox is already packed with educational information and resources for patients and has attracted over 4 million individual users since its launch in 2016. And there are already over 20 EUPATI National Platforms (ENP) bringing together patient, academic and industry partners as well as other stakeholders and providing a forum for more local activities designed to raise awareness about the role of patients in research. Looking to the future, the new EUPATI Foundation plans build on these achievements.
‘The EUPATI team should be incredibly proud of themselves for achieving their goal of launching an independent foundation that will carry on the work begun under the IMI projects EUPATI and EFOEUPATI,’ said IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien. ‘I am convinced that thanks to EUPATI, more patients will be able to play an even greater role in medical research and drug development, long into the future.’
Find out more
PARADIGM releases patient engagement toolbox
IMI project PARADIGM has launched its Patient Engagement Toolbox that brings together in one place all the project’s recommendations, tools and relevant background information to make patient engagement in medicines development easier for all. The toolbox is the result of a huge co-creation effort involving extensive research, surveys, focus groups, case studies, workshops, and multiple rounds of reviews.
The tools are divided into three groups: planning patient engagement; conducting patient engagement; and reporting and evaluation. Each tool comes with information detailing how the tool was produced and who contributed to its creation.
‘To make patient engagement easier for all in medicines development, several stakeholders need to work together, to come up with the most suitable solutions for all parties involved,’ says PARADIGM coordinator Mathieu Boudes of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF). ‘At PARADIGM, we’ve been extremely grateful to be able to develop the Patient Engagement Toolbox with the funding scheme of the IMI, as a true public-private partnership. To me, without the IMI, this would not have been possible’
PARADIGM is drawing to a close, but the Patient Engagement Toolbox will be maintained and accessible via the EUPATI and PFMD (Patient Focused Medicines Development) platforms.
Find out more
Spot it, slow it, and stop it: INNODIA ready for trials of potential diabetes drugs
The INNODIA project is launching four diabetes drug studies, designed according to their regulator-approved master protocol.
The project focuses on newly-diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients, as well as their close relatives, to understand the course of type 1 diabetes at the early stages of the disease. They want to know more about the rate of decline in insulin-producing beta-cells in the pancreas so that it can be detected, slowed, and even stopped.
This autumn, four clinical trials are due to get underway across Europe. They will be carried out by different clinical sites that form the network set up by INNODIA, and all sites will follow the 'Master Protocol' - guide documents for carrying out clinical trials - that was established by the project and green-lit this year by the European drugs regulator, the EMA. The participants in the trials will all have been diagnosed with diabetes in the preceding six weeks.
According to Veerle Vanhuyse, member of the INNODIA Patient Advisory Committee and communication representative for the project, using INNODIA’s Master Protocol makes participating in the clinical trials easier for study site personnel, as all manipulations, materials and communication channels are identical. “Patients will feel comfortable as they will see the familiar INNODIA study personnel and will receive information of the trials in similar formats as what has been used in the INNODIA natural history study. We are hitting the ground running.”
Find out more