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IMI launches €60 million Call for proposals on major challenges in drug development


Antimicrobial resistance – Infection with Clostridium difficile bacteria causes diarrhoea and abdominal pain and can prove fatal. In Europe alone, some 172 000 people, many of them elderly, are infected every year. The goal of this topic is to improve our understanding of the epidemiology and clinical impact of C. difficile infection and to create an EU-wide research platform that will make it easier to test new ways of preventing and treating it. The resulting project will form part of IMI’s wider antimicrobial resistance programme ‘New Drugs for Bad Bugs’.

New treatments for rheumatic disease – Recent years have seen the development of many new treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), yet the majority of patients still struggle to keep their condition under control and many experience unpleasant and sometimes serious side effects of their treatment. This topic aims to deliver tools and knowledge that would pave the way for the development of personalised ‘immune tolerance’ treatments capable of stopping RA in its tracks.

Data quality – Poor quality data is an issue in many research fields. In medical research, consequences include poor decision-making resulting in higher failure rates and longer drug development times. This topic aims to boost data quality in medical research by identifying factors that affect data quality, identifying best practices and creating an educational platform, among other things. It will focus initially on the fields of neuroscience and preclinical medicines safety.

Medicines safety – Assessing the safety of potential medicines remains immensely challenging. One major issue is understanding how well toxicity in animal tests predicts toxicity in humans. This topic will create a vast database with safety information from animal and human studies on large numbers of potential drugs. This will facilitate extensive research in this important area and the development of new, computer-based tools to test drug toxicity, something which could reduce the use of animals in research and improve clinical trial success rates.

Liver disease – Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs when fat builds up in the liver. In some people, NAFLD turns into a more serious condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), raising the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. NAFLD is quite common, affecting some 30% of the population, and a challenge for doctors is identifying which NAFLD patients will go on to develop NASH and, for those with NASH, predicting how fast the disease will progress. This topic aims to deliver simple biological markers (e.g. from blood tests or imaging) that could be used to diagnose NASH and predict which patients will rapidly develop more serious liver disease.

Flu vaccines – Flu is a leading cause of hospitalisation and death due to infectious diseases in the developed world. Vaccination is recognised as an effective tool to counter the disease. However, the flu virus is constantly evolving, meaning that new vaccines are needed on an annual basis to ensure those vaccinated are protected from infection. This topic will deliver a governance model and platform for carrying out detailed studies of flu vaccine effectiveness sin Europe, as well as associated communication tools.

Pierre Meulien, IMI Executive Director commented: ‘The diversity of the topics in this new Call for proposals reflects the sheer variety of challenges that still exist in medicines research and development. IMI is committed to tackling these challenges head-on, by creating collaborative projects that bring together the brightest and best from academia, pharmaceutical companies, small companies, patient groups, public health institutes, and others.’

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Notes to Editors
  • For more information on IMI 2 – Call 9, visit IMI2 – Call 9 page
  • IMI is holding a series of webinars on all Call topics plus IMI’s rules and procedures throughout April. To register for future webinars, and to download presentations and recordings from past webinars, visit Webinars on IMI2 Call 9
  • Deadline for submitting short proposals: 26 July 2016
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About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is working to improve health by speeding up the development of, and patient access to, the next generation of medicines, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. It does this by facilitating collaboration among the key players involved in healthcare research, including universities, pharmaceutical companies, other companies active in healthcare research, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organisations, and medicines regulators. This approach has proven highly successful, and IMI projects are delivering exciting results that are helping to advance the development of urgently-needed new treatments in diverse areas.

IMI is a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry, represented by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). Through the IMI 2 programme, IMI has a budget of €3.3 billion for the period 2014-2024. Half of this comes from the EU’s research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. The other half comes from large companies, mostly from the pharmaceutical sector; these do not receive any EU funding, but contribute to the projects ‘in kind’, for example by donating their researchers’ time or providing access to research facilities or resources.