- IMI Stakeholder Forum 2018 – registration open
- Sign up for the IMI Scientific Symposium
- IMI2 – Calls 15 & 16: deadline approaching
- Meet IMI at BIO-Europe in Copenhagen
- Paper highlights importance of global data standards
- Article calls for ‘bigger data’ approach to Alzheimer’s disease
- K4DD infrared sensor could aid in drug discovery
- INNODIA team adds piece to type 1 diabetes puzzle
- COMBACTE-NET issues recommendations for clinical development of antibacterials
- Boosting the fight against drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals
- ‘We found a way to share the unsharable’ – an interview with the eTOX project coordinators
IMI Stakeholder Forum 2018 – registration open
Registration is open for the IMI Stakeholder Forum, which will be held in Brussels on Wednesday 24 October. The theme this year is ’The value of cross-sectoral health research and innovation’; the event also offers an opportunity to celebrate IMI’s 10th anniversary. An updated agenda is now available via the event web page – confirmed speakers come from leading pharmaceutical companies as well as companies from other sectors, including Microsoft, Siemens, and SAP. The speakers also represent a broad range of interests, including patient groups, universities, and regulators, among others.
Sign up for the IMI Scientific Symposium
Registration is also open for the IMI Scientific Symposium, which will be held in Brussels on 22 and 23 October 2018 (before the Stakeholder Forum). The event will feature more than 70 poster displays and over 25 oral presentations by young scientists, as well as several interesting panels on topics ranging from personalised medicine to patient-centric approaches in drug development. The oral presentations and the scientific posters were selected by a panel of top experts and they will offer a glimpse into some of the stellar science that IMI projects have been doing in various disease areas, such as severe asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cancer, to name but a few.
Registration is free but obligatory. A link to the registration form as well as the updated agenda are available on the event web page.
IMI2 – Calls 15 & 16: deadline approaching
The deadline is approaching for submitting proposals in response to IMI2 – Calls 15 and 16: 24 October 2018 at 17:00 Brussels time. The Calls feature topics on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), brain disorders and immune-mediated diseases as well as patient-centric clinical trials, medicines safety, and blockchain technologies. Details of all topics can be found on the IMI2 – Call 15 and IMI2 – Call 16 web pages. We also encourage applicants to view the webinars on both the topics and IMI’s rules and procedures.
We are organising an additional webinar on the topic ‘Tuberculosis drug development network to accelerate and validate scientific discoveries and advance the R&D pipeline of new and innovative agents to address the global tuberculosis epidemic’, which is part of the new AMR Accelerator programme. It will be held on Monday 24 September and registration is open via the IMI website.
Any questions on the topics, the Call process or our rules should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet IMI at BIO-Europe in Copenhagen
IMI is teaming up with the European Commission (EC) to take part in BIO-Europe 2018, which will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 5 to 7 November inclusive. On the morning of Tuesday 6 November, there will be a session on EU research funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This will feature speakers from IMI, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank and an SME that has received EU funding. IMI and the EC will also be at the exhibition at stand 49, where staff from both organisations will be on hand to answer questions. Held annually, BIO-Europe attracts around 4 000 participants and features panel discussions, workshops and company presentations as well as an exhibition and extensive networking opportunities.
Paper highlights importance of global data standards
The value of global data standards in medical research is the focus of a new comment paper, co-authored by IMI Senior Scientific Project Manager Nathalie Seigneuret and published in the journal Clinical and Translational Science. The paper explains that standards enhance data quality and contribute to a common understanding of a disease area that is accepted by all stakeholders in medical research. Nevertheless, developing standards takes time. Ideally, they should be global; open and freely available; based on consensus; developed through an appropriate process; authorised by a standards developing organisation; unique; adopted and endorsed widely; and fit for purpose. The authors underline the importance of applying standards from the very beginning of a study. If this is not done, resources will be needed later to map the data onto a standard, and even then it may not be possible to fully transfer all data to the standard chosen. Navigating the range of standards on offer can be bewildering; here the authors point to the Standards Starter Pack created by IMI’s eTRIKS project as a useful guide. The authors also highlight the value of funding organisations (including IMI) insisting on the use of standards for projects they fund. The authors conclude: ‘Sharing data is key to making progress on cures for the world’s major healthcare challenges – cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, infectious disease, and more – and standardisation will accelerate that progress.’
Article calls for ‘bigger data’ approach to Alzheimer’s disease
A group of scientists has called for the use of a ‘bigger data’ approach to tackling Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and set out some recommendations to achieve this. The paper, published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, cites IMI’s Alzheimer’s projects as examples of good practice. Recent decades have seen hundreds of clinical trials of Alzheimer’s treatments end in failure. In the paper, the authors argue that one reason for this is the lack of ‘data density’; put simply, there are many Alzheimer’s disease databases spread across a wide range of organisations. The group’s first recommendation is to create a master global Alzheimer’s disease data repository which would link up all the best patient-level data currently available. They point to IMI’s work through EPAD, ROADMAP and AETIONOMY as examples of what can be done and achieved by linking up data. Other recommendations made by the group are:
- leverage lessons from the cancer community;
- create a master bibliometric resource for neurodegenerative diseases;
- greatly increase the focus on social determinants of health;
- invest further in digital health opportunities in clinical trials;
- increase the use of pragmatic clinical design approaches.
The authors conclude: ‘Building data density and making it available to the AD research, treatment, advocacy and patient communities could be accomplished through a comprehensive yet focused ‘bigger’ data strategy.’
K4DD infrared sensor could aid in drug discovery
Scientists from IMI’s K4DD project have developed an infrared sensor that rapidly reveals how a drug binds to its target and how long that effect lasts. The tool, which could aid in the development of more effective drugs with fewer side effects, is described in a paper in Angewandte Chemie. Many drugs take effect when they attach themselves to a specific protein, thereby blocking or altering its activity. In cases where the drug binding is accompanied by structural changes of the protein, it is important to obtain information about these structural changes. Current methods to assess the nature of these structural changes need weeks or even months to deliver results. The new technique delivers results in just minutes. In the sensor, the target protein is bound to the surface of a crystal, which is rinsed with solutions containing a drug that should attach to the protein. An infrared light is shone through the crystal; any changes to the protein structure caused by the drug are detected by a sensor. The team tested their device on medicines designed to affect the heat shock protein HSP90, which is implicated in a number of diseases including cancer. The device delivered the same results as conventional tests and provided new information on the activity of 11 additional HSP90 inhibitors. The nature and duration of a medicine’s attachment to the target protein can influence how effective a medicine will be, and how often it will need to be taken. The authors of the paper conclude: ‘Particularly when scaled up in an automated screening platform, our method could be used to identify new drug candidates in the early drug-discovery process.’
INNODIA team adds piece to type 1 diabetes puzzle
An international team of scientists has identified the molecules that trigger the immune system in people with type 1 diabetes. The scientists hope that their findings will aid in the development of vaccines to prevent and treat the disease. The work, funded in part by IMI through the INNODIA project, is published in the journal Cell Metabolism. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease. It occurs when immune cells called T lymphocytes attack the pancreatic beta cells, which are responsible for the production of the hormone insulin. To make up for the loss of these cells, people with type 1 diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to manage their blood sugar levels. In this study, the researchers analysed the molecules on the surface of the pancreatic beta cells and how the T lymphocytes respond to them. They found that in both healthy people and diabetes patients, T lymphocytes recognised these molecules when they encountered them in the blood. However, in diabetes patients, the immune cells also recognised them in the pancreas. The team will use this new-found knowledge to develop vaccines to prevent and treat type 1 diabetes. However, while conventional vaccines seek to boost the immune response, the aim here will be to neutralise it.
COMBACTE-NET issues recommendations for clinical development of antibacterials
Researchers from STAT-Net, a group of experts from IMI’s COMBACTE-NET project, have issued a white paper with recommendations for improving the design and analysis of clinical trials of drugs to treat resistant infections. In the paper, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the team states that the recommendations represent ‘a solid, evidence-based approach to develop new, and established, antibacterials and address this public health challenge’. The clinical development of a new antibacterial is far from easy; for example, using standard clinical trial designs, it is difficult to find enough patients with a resistant infection to adequately assess the safety and efficacy of a new treatment. With this in mind, the COMBACTE-NET team assessed a number of ways of improving the situation, and scored each one on its alignment with regulatory frameworks; its technical feasibility; ease of data interpretation; ease of practical implementation; and the strength of the evidence base for the recommendation. The authors note that not all recommendations will be applicable to all trials, and some score better than others on the different criteria. Nevertheless, they note that ‘they are all relevant to the debate supporting change’. The team concludes: ‘Hopefully, these recommendations and their continued evaluation and evolution will accelerate antibacterial approval and ensure appropriate use of established antibiotics to help those in need as soon and as best as possible.’
Boosting the fight against drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals
Antibiotic resistance is a big global public health problem. Of particular concern are multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, which are among the leading causes of serious, debilitating and life threatening healthcare-associated infections. There is an urgent need for new therapies to treat or prevent infections caused by these bacteria in hospitalised patients. IMI’s COMBACTE-MAGNET project is developing new antibacterial treatments for vulnerable patients, especially the critically ill in intensive care units. It is doing this by promoting collaborations between scientific experts. ‘I think the creation of an effective public-private consortium like COMBACTE-MAGNET in itself is a major achievement,’ says project coordinator Hasan Jafri of MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca. ‘The project brings together top researchers and clinicians from five pharmaceutical companies – AstraZeneca, AiCuris, GSK, Basilea Pharmaceutica, and Sanofi – and more than 30 leading academic medical centres from 10 European countries.’ To date, the COMBACTE-MAGNET consortium has established a Pan-European platform called EPI-Net to access epidemiological data; is publishing the first results from an epidemiology study; and is designing innovative clinical trials to advance development of novel molecules against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.
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‘We found a way to share the unsharable’ – an interview with the eTOX project coordinators
If we could reliably predict side effects in the initial phases of drug development, this would lower the failure rate in later phases, significantly reduce the number of animal tests needed, and accelerate the development of new drugs. The eTOX project broke new ground in that it enabled pharmaceutical companies to share their data on the toxicity of drug-like compounds for the first time on a large scale. This resulted in the creation of a large database, which can now be mined for further insights, including predictions on whether or not a particular compound is likely to have an adverse effect on patients. In an interview with the IMI Programme Office, project coordinator Francois Pognan of Novartis, and academic coordinator Ferran Sanz of Institut Hospital del Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques, explain how the tools developed by the project are already helping pharmaceutical companies make better-informed decisions in their pursuit of developing safer drugs for patients. ‘Just the fact that we were able to share all this data between companies, who are normally competitors, is a big achievement,' said Pognan. ‘We found a way to share the unsharable.’