- Check out the revamped IMI website
- Catch up on the Stakeholder Forum
- Read IMI’s response to evaluations of IMI1 and IMI2
- New ‘Carry the torch’ brochure highlights impacts of IMI projects
- Meet IMI in Berlin and Belfast in November
Check out the revamped IMI website
IMI’s website has had a full make-over, with a completely new look as well as updated content and new features. The projects section has been significantly expanded – in addition to the project pages, there are now dedicated pages on success stories and tools delivered by our projects, plus an interactive map that allows you to explore the IMI community. We have also revamped the Get Involved section, with dedicated pages for a range of stakeholder groups which include testimonials from project participants.
Catch up on the Stakeholder Forum
Over 300 people attended the IMI Stakeholder Forum in Brussels on 18-19 October. The focus of this year’s event was on open innovation, and the discussions on day 1 addressed what we mean by open innovation, as well as issues such as the need to be willing to take risks to ‘do’ open innovation. IMI projects also presented how they are putting the concept of open innovation into practice in different ways. Day 2 looked at the question of open innovation in two specific areas: the microbiome, and patient involvement in research. All presentations are available via the event web page, and the video recordings will be published shortly.
Read IMI’s response to evaluations of IMI1 and IMI2
On 9 October, the European Commission published two evaluation reports on IMI – the final review of the IMI1 programme, and the mid-term review of IMI2. IMI welcomes the reports, in which the experts conclude that the IMI programme ‘remains relevant and justified’ and that ‘positive contributions on the drug development process have been realised’. Other positive points recognised in the reports include:
- our role in the creation of collaborative research networks that have enhanced trust between partners from different sectors, and triggered a mind shift as partners came to understand each other’s needs;
- the quality of the research emerging from IMI projects;
- the creation of important resources and tools for drug development, some of which are already being used by researchers in their daily work.
The reports also note that 90% of the people who responded to the online survey agreed that the EU should cooperate with industry in the context of a public-private partnership on health.
The reports include valuable recommendations that will help us to further improve our performance in the coming years. We recognise these issues and have already started putting in place systems to address them. For example, we are now close to finalising our updated key performance indicators. We have also developed a strategy to attract more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to IMI. We are also putting greater efforts into identifying our projects’ most important outputs and communicating on them to a wider audience.
We are now working closely with the Governing Board to put in place an action plan that will ensure we respond to the expert evaluators’ recommendations.
- Read the IMI response to the evaluation reports
New ‘Carry the torch’ brochure highlights impacts of IMI projects
IMI projects are accelerating the medicines development process, generating new scientific insights, and developing resources for open use by the research community. Furthermore, some of our projects are already delivering direct benefits to patients. Interested in concrete numbers and examples? Find out more about the impact and outputs of our projects in our new brochure, and learn how we are 'Carrying the torch for medical innovation'.
Meet IMI in Berlin and Belfast in November
IMI will be on the road in November, with events at BIO-Europe in Berlin on 6-8 November, and a session at the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) Congress in Belfast on 30 November.
IMI at BIO-Europe | Berlin, Germany, 6-8 November
IMI has teamed up with the European Commission to host a stand at the BIO-Europe exhibition and organise a session on EU funding for SMEs working in health research. The session speakers include IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien, and Stefan Beyer, CEO and Managing Director of Vibalogics, Managing Entity of the IMI EBOMAN project.
- Visit the IMI at BIO-Europe web page
IMI at the EAPM Congress | Belfast, Northern Ireland, 30 November
IMI’s session at the EAPM Congress will showcase projects that are working to accelerate the delivery of personalised treatments and cures. Entitled ‘Personalised Medicine through Open Innovation’, the session brings together representatives of flagship IMI projects in this area, namely Peter Sterk, of our severe asthma project U-BIOPRED; Barbara Baggiani of our cancer project CANCER-ID; and Declan Murphy of our autism project EU-AIMS. The presentations will be followed by a dynamic discussion with the audience on the trends, challenges and opportunities for personalised medicines through collaborative research.
- Visit the IMI at the EAPM Congress web page
OncoTrack leads to better understanding of colon cancer, inspires a spin-out company
Colorectal cancer is the third most frequently occurring cancer worldwide and, at an advanced stage, one of the most common causes of death. It takes numerous forms, with not all such cancers responding to the same drugs in the same way. To improve responses of colorectal tumours to treatment and increase survival rates, IMI’s OncoTrack project collected tumour samples from 106 patients. These were grown and analysed to identify biomarkers and create molecular fingerprints for each one. Researchers then tested the response of the tumours to different drugs and correlated the molecular fingerprints and responses. This made it possible to predict whether a drug will be effective on a specific tumour. In this way, the OncoTrack researchers discovered sets of biomarkers that can predict the effectiveness of two common means of colorectal cancer treatment: Cetuximab, which stops proteins on the surface of cancer cells from causing the cells to divide and grow, and the chemotherapy drug 5FU.
‘The biological models of colon cancer that the consortium developed are especially well characterised and are already being used by some pharma companies for drug discovery and development projects,’ says David Henderson, who coordinates the project on behalf of Bayer AG in Germany. Growth of the tumours took place in 3D tissue culture systems and through xenografts – tissue grafted onto mice, which creates a strain of the disease adapted to mice. Use of the models developed under OncoTrack has the potential to bring about long-term benefits. One biotech company has been developing and refining a computer-based drug response prediction approach which may ultimately provide a commercial diagnostic service. ‘The xenograft models are available on a commercial basis and a new company was spun out from the project to capitalise on the technologies surrounding use of the 3D culture models in drug development,’ says Henderson.
QuIC-ConCePT biomarker tests to speed up cancer drug development
Imaging biomarkers extracted from CT, PET and MRI scans are extremely beneficial tools for assessing if a cancer drug is working at an early stage. However, scientists are frustrated that not enough of these tests are validated for use in clinical research. IMI’s QuIC-ConCePT project seeks to address this challenge by accelerating the validation of existing bioimaging markers so that they can reliably be used in drug research. ‘Our frustration was that there was only a small number of imaging biomarkers that drug developers could trust,’ says deputy project coordinator John Waterton, professor of translational imaging at the UK’s University of Manchester and former head of imaging at the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. ‘The genesis of the QuIC-ConCePT project was to add to the number of imaging biomarkers that could be used in drug development. We cherry-picked a few promising tests – and then put them through a vigorous validation process.’
The project focuses on tumour cell proliferation, programmed cell death (apoptosis) and cell death due to injury, disease or lack of blood supply (necrosis) and has concentrated on two imaging biomarkers for measuring these. These include: MRI ADC (Apparent Diffusion Coefficient), a measure of diffusion of water molecules within tissue that gives information about tissue integrity; and FLT (fluorothymidine) PET scan, which measures whether tumour cells are dividing fast. The team has evaluated the two imaging biomarkers, assessing their reproducibility, effectiveness, timing, dose response and imaging in animals and humans. They are now awaiting results from two clinical trials involving a well-known cancer drug for lung and liver cancer patients to see if changes in imaging are reflected in the pathology of the cancer tumours. Results are due to be published in 2018. QuIC-ConCePT also led a consensus group that produced a set of 14 recommendations (or a ‘roadmap’) for accelerating the clinical validation of imaging biomarkers in an influential paper in the medical journal Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology.
European Lead Factory identifies hits for a new drug target involved in depression and pain
Pioneering ideas to improve antidepressant therapies are greatly required since existing antidepressants are moderately effective and the response rate in patients suffering from depression is approximately less than 50%. IMI’s European Lead Factory (ELF) project has identified novel small molecules that might be transformed into a new medical treatment for depression and pain. The exciting innovative target involved in these debilitating conditions was discovered by Dr Patrick McHugh of the University of Huddersfield. ‘We don’t have the facilities to carry out large scale screening campaigns to fully assess the possibilities of our findings’, said McHugh. ‘That’s why we’ve used the connections in ELF and formed a partnership with Taros Chemicals and Pivot Park Screening Centre to counter this problem and enable further investigation of this target and its potential to modulate disease.’
In a collaborative effort, they successfully created a drug discovery programme which could be submitted to the ELF. Subsequently, the entire Joint European Compound Library of approximately 400 000 compounds was screened, which resulted in 50 confirmed hits. These promising compounds will now be further developed by the consortium, which could lead to an alternative medicine to treat depression as well as chronic pain.