Cancer, Neurodegenerative Disease and Medicines Safety Feature in New IMI Call for Proposals

Innovative Medicines InitiativeThe Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is launching a new Call for proposals covering diabetes, antimicrobial resistance, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, and medicines safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding, to name just a few. The total budget of the Call is EUR 223 million, around half of which comes from the EU's Horizon 2020 programme, and half of which comes from EFPIA companies and IMI Associated Partners.

The topics in full

Diabetic cardiomyopathy: Diabetic patients are 2.5 times more likely to develop heart failure than people without diabetes. The goal of this topic is to determine if and how diabetic cardiomyopathy is different from other forms of heart disease, and to study the underlying causes of the disease. This information will ultimately aid in the development of new treatments for patients.

Inflammatory skin diseases (psoriasis and atopic dermatitis): Atopic dermatitis affects 10% of children and 3% of adults; those affected experience itchy, inflamed skin that can become blistered. Psoriasis affects 2% of the population and is characterised by red, scaly plaques on the skin. Both diseases are poorly understood. This topic will lead to a step change in our understanding of these diseases and identify potential targets for new treatments.

Diagnostics for antimicrobial resistance (AMR): If we want to tackle AMR, we need to ensure that antibiotics are only used when absolutely necessary. However, data shows that in Europe, 30-50% of antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily. Better diagnostic tests would help to bring this figure down. This topic aims to understand, demonstrate and quantify the value of diagnostics as tools to optimise antibiotic use and tackle antibiotic resistance.

The role of the cell's 'power house' in neurodegeneration: Mitochondria are structures inside our cells that generate energy. They appear to play a distinct role in the brain and nerve cells, and this topic will add to our knowledge of how problems in the mitochondria impact neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. The findings will hopefully trigger new approaches to drug development in this challenging area.

Coordination and support action (CSA) for neurodegeneration: IMI's neurodegeneration project portfolio is growing rapidly and the projects are delivering results. This CSA would provide a framework and resources to facilitate the coordination of, and collaboration among, both current and future projects in this area.

A European induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform: IPSCs are created by taking ordinary adult cells (such as skin cells) and reprogramming them to make them 'pluripotent', i.e. able to give rise to all the different kinds of cell that make up the human body. The IMI EBISC project and other initiatives have shown that it is possible to set up a bank of high-quality iPSCs that can be used for research. This new topic will build on these initiatives to create a resource that is sustainable in the long term.

Digital assessment of mobility: Chronic disease, frailty and accidents can all result in a loss of mobility. There are efforts to develop treatments that will restore function and mobility, but assessing how well these work is far from easy. However, digital technologies have huge potential to measure people’s mobility in the real world. This project will assess real world walking speed (RWS, which is known to be linked to mortality and falls) and carry out additional digital mobility assessments in people with limited mobility. The goal will be to demonstrate that RWS or a similar measure of a person's gait can predict which patients are most likely to experience an outcome such as a fall, hospitalisation, or death for example.

Cancer: Some new cancer treatments harness the immune system to fight the disease. However, for most patients, they do not deliver a long-lasting response and they often cause unpleasant side effects. This project will study in detail the tumour microenvironment - a greater understanding of how the immune system and cancer cells interact at the molecular level will contribute to the development of better treatments.

Medicines safety in pregnancy and during breastfeeding: There is a serious lack of data on the safe and effective use of medicines for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and this is preventing the optimal care of pregnant women with serious illnesses. This topic will generate tools and methods to generate reliable, timely data for healthcare providers and women alike to improve their care during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Predicting medicines safety early in drug development: Predicting which potential medicines could be harmful to major organ systems is a major challenge during drug development. This topic will focus on developing biological markers that reliably indicate injury of the liver, kidneys, pancreas, blood vessels, and central nervous system.

Ensuring the safety of medicines for the nervous system: The brain and nerve cells are highly complex, and current tests to predict the toxicity of a potential medicine on the central and peripheral nervous systems do not work well. This topic focuses on the need to develop better tools capable of predicting, early in the medicines development process, whether a potential medicine is likely to have an adverse effect on the nervous system. The result will be safer clinical trials and safer medicines.

Pilot programme - clinical compound bank for repurposing: Only 10% of compounds studied in the early stages of drug development make it into clinical trials, and of those, just 20% achieve regulatory approval. Nevertheless, the compounds that fall along the way can still prove useful in research and in some cases can be 'repurposed', i.e. used for the treatment of different diseases to the one for which they were originally developed. As a lot of work has already been carried out on the compounds, repurposing can deliver results much faster and for less money. Under this pilot programme, pharmaceutical companies are making compounds available for exploration for repurposing in four disease areas: cardiovascular diseases and diabetes; respiratory diseases; neurodegenerative diseases; and rare / orphan diseases.

Pierre Meulien, IMI Executive Director commented: "IMI Calls for proposals represent an excellent opportunity for scientists from universities, small companies, and patient groups. Our Calls are about more than funding - they are a chance to join a global community of thousands of people from a range of sectors working together to accelerate and improve the entire drug development process, for the benefit of patients."

Deadline for submitting short proposals: 28 February 2018

For more information on IMI2 - Call 13, including the full topic texts and details of how to apply, please visit:
http://www.imi.europa.eu/apply-funding/open-calls/imi2-call-13

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 between 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 2014-2020. 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.

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