IMI Newsletter: Call webinars, AMR action plan, project successes

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69th Edition – June 2017

  Sign up for the webinars on IMI2 – Calls 11 and 12   European Commission releases plan on antimicrobial resistance   IMI at the BIO International Convention   New video on IMI – carrying the torch for medical innovation   ‘It has been a very positive experience’ – an interview with the SME in IMI’s EU-AIMS project   News from the projects

Sign up for the webinars on IMI2 – Calls 11 and 12

In July 2017, IMI will hold webinars on:

IMI2 – Call 11 on the exploitation of IMI project results; IMI2 – Call 12, with one webinar on the rules and procedures and one webinar for each topic.

All webinars on the Call topics will feature a presentation by the EFPIA topic coordinator and time for questions and answers. The webinars represent an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Call topics, interact directly with the topic coordinators, and get in touch with potential project partners.

The webinar on IMI’s rules and procedures will also include presentations of IMI's intellectual property regime and tips on the preparation of proposal submissions.

Although IMI2 - Calls 11 and 12 have not yet been launched, the indicative topic texts are available on the Future Topics page.

Registration is free but obligatory via the links given for each webinar. When you register, you will receive an automatic confirmation e-mail with your own personal web link and dial-in number which you should use on the day. All times given are Brussels time (Central European Summer Time, CEST).

Schedule

Discovery and characterisation of blood-brain barrier targets and transport mechanisms for brain delivery of therapeutics to treat neurodegenerative & metabolic diseases - Monday 3 July, 16:00-17:30 - Register here

FAIRification of IMI and EFPIA data - Thursday 6 July, 14:00-15:30 - Register here

Analysing the infectious disease burden and the use of vaccines to improve healthy years in aging populations - Wednesday 12 July, 16.00-17:30 - Register here

European Health Data Network - Thursday 13 July, 11.30-13:00 - Register here

Development and validation of technology enabled, quantitative and sensitive measures of functional decline in people with early stage Alzheimer’s disease (RADAR-AD) - Friday 14 July, 13:30-15:00 - Register here

European Screening Centre: unique library for attractive biology - Friday 14 July, 16:00-17:30 - Register here

IMI2 – Call 12: Rules and procedures - Monday 17 July, 14:30-16:00 - Register here

Development of sensitive and validated clinical endpoints in primary Sjögren’s Syndrome (pSS) - Tuesday 18 July, 14.30-16:00 - Register here

IMI2 – Call 11: Exploitation of IMI project results - Wednesday 26 July, 14.30-16:00 - Register here

European Commission releases plan on antimicrobial resistance

The European Commission has released a new action plan on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The document takes a ‘one health’ approach to the issue, and as such the human, animal and environmental aspects of AMR are all addressed. On research and innovation, the European Commission explains that the action plan ‘not only aims to boost research, but also to further incentivise innovation, provide valuable input into science-based policies and legal measures to combat AMR and address knowledge gaps such as the role of AMR in the environment’. Among other things, the Commission pledges to work in partnership with Member States, the industry (including small and medium-sized enterprises) and IMI ‘to tackle AMR in bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites’.

IMI’s New Drugs for Bad Bugs (ND4BB) programme was born out of the European Commission’s last action plan on antimicrobial resistance, which was published in 2011. The first projects kicked off in early 2013, and the programme now encompasses seven projects that are starting to deliver exciting results in diverse aspects of antibiotic development. The total budget of the programme now stands at around €700 million. Between them, the projects address some of the biggest challenges in antibiotic development, covering basic science and early stage drug development, clinical trials, and economics. The main achievements of the projects are summarised in a newly-produced booklet.

IMI at the BIO International Convention

IMI took part in this year’s  BIO International Convention which was held in San Diego, US from 19 to 22 June 2017.

On Thursday 22 June, IMI organised a  session in the digital health track of the BIO educational programme: ‘Detect, Predict, Prevent: Using Digital Technologies to Tackle Brain Disorders’. The session attracted over 100 attendees and focused on how smartphones or wearable devices may support patients affected by brain disorders, healthcare providers and the R&D of tech companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Among other things, the session highlighted the work of IMI's  RADAR-CNS project.

IMI was also present at the European Commission’s booth at the  BIO Exhibition

The 2017 BIO International Convention attracted 16 100 attendees from 74 countries, including biotechnology and pharma leaders who came together for a week of intensive networking and partnering opportunities. The event featured a strong educational programme with over 145 sessions, as well as an expansive exhibition floor counting 1 800 exhibitors.
Read more about  IMI’s participation.

New video on IMI – carrying the torch for medical innovation

Diseases keep changing and infections we treated for decades can once again kill. By creating an unprecedented partnership between the public and private sectors, IMI will help speed up the medicine development process and turn knowledge into treatment more quickly. The road is long, but we won’t stop trying because the light of medical progress still burns bright. These are the main messages of a short, new video about the work of IMI. Don’t miss it!

‘It has been a very positive experience’ – an interview with the SME in IMI’s EU-AIMS project

Noldus Information Technology BV is a Dutch small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) with an important role in IMI’s EU-AIMS project, which aims to generate tools that will enhance our understanding of autism spectrum disorders. In an interview with the IMI Programme Office, Lucas Noldus, the managing director of the company, shared his experience of participating in this project and explained how his company is benefiting. ‘All in all, participation in EU-AIMS has been a very positive experience so far,’ he said. ‘We hope it won’t be our last IMI project!’

News from the projects

ENABLE scientists discover a new way to target drug-resistant bacteria

Scientists from IMI’s ENABLE project have found a new mechanism to target drug-resistant bacteria, opening up a promising new pathway for further research. The mechanism involves DNA gyrase, a well-known enzyme that is a target of already existing antibiotics. ENABLE scientists found a new way to inhibit this enzyme and kill drug-resistant bacteria in the laboratory. In the study,  published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they identified and characterised two new compounds, which have the ability to kill bacteria resistant to quinolones, a family of broad-spectrum antibiotic drugs, in this novel way. Although the work on these specific compounds will not continue within the ENABLE project because the compounds showed toxicity, the new mechanism which was uncovered holds potential for future research. ‘This study is very significant, but not because these specific compounds are likely to end up as clinical drugs’, said Anthony Maxwell of the John Innes Centre in the UK, one of the ENABLE project partners who played a key role in this study. ‘It is significant because it has revealed a novel way of targeting a well validated anti-bacterial target, DNA gyrase, and that new way of targeting this enzyme is not subject to pre-existing resistance to antibiotics. It is very exciting. Eventually this could lead to the development of the new antibiotics.’

EMIF project helps shed light on role of omegas in Alzheimer’s

Omega-3 and omega-6 unsaturated fatty acids play a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research published in the journal  PLOS Medicine and supported in part by IMI’s  EMIF project. Currently it is thought that the main reason for developing memory problems in dementia is the presence of two big molecules in the brain called tau and amyloid proteins. These proteins have been extensively studied and have been shown to start accumulating in the brain up to 20 years before the disease onset. In the new study, researchers from King’s College London and the National Institute on Aging in the USA, looked at concentrations of thousands of metabolites in brain tissue samples of 43 people: 14 people with healthy brains, 15 that had high levels of tau and amyloid but didn’t show memory problems, and 14 clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s patients. They found that six unsaturated fatty acids, including omegas, were significantly different in Alzheimer’s brains when compared to brains from healthy patients. Overall, their levels were lower than in the healthy patients and one omega, DHA, was increased. As this study was observational, it is not clear whether decreased levels of unsaturated fatty acids drive the progression of Alzheimer’s or they are a result of the disease. As one of the co-leaders of the study, Cristina Legido Quigley of King’s College London said: ‘While this was a small study, our results show a potentially crucial and unexpected role for fats in the onset of dementia. It is now important for us to build on and replicate these findings in a larger study and see whether it corroborates our findings’.

Simon Lovestone of IMI’s EMIF and EPAD projects awarded knighthood

Simon Lovestone of IMI’s dementia projects EMIF and EPAD has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s birthday honours ‘for services to neuroscience research’. Professor Lovestone is the coordinator of IMI’s EMIF project, which is developing a common information framework of patient-level data that will link up and facilitate access to diverse medical and research data sources, opening up new avenues of research for scientists. He also leads the work package on scientific challenges in IMI’s EPAD project, which is revolutionising the way we carry out clinical trials for treatments designed to prevent dementia. Professor Lovestone described himself as ‘thrilled and delighted’ by the honour. ‘The past 25 years working in dementia research has been, and continues to be, the most fulfilling and rewarding experience and it has been the greatest of pleasures to work with superb scientists and students in my group and through collaboration; I am humbled by the excellence of their work and their dedication,’ he said. ‘We are making progress towards therapies and tests for Alzheimer's disease and this award only spurs me on to redouble our efforts and defeat this disease that causes so much unhappiness to so many people. I remain convinced that we will succeed; and such success cannot come soon enough.'

Revolutionising clinical trials for dementia – an interview with the EPAD project leaders

Despite considerable efforts and investments over the past decades, there is still no disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. This is probably due in part to the fact that efforts to develop treatments have traditionally focused on those who already have very advanced disease. However, scientists now know that the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease start to appear in people’s brains years and even decades before the first symptoms of dementia appear. The ambitious goal of the EPAD project is to revolutionise the way we carry out clinical trials for treatments designed to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. ‘What that means is taking people who show evidence of Alzheimer’s disease, but don’t yet have dementia, and trying to prevent that from happening,’ explains project coordinators Craig Ritchie of the University of Edinburgh in an interview with the IMI Programme Office. Together with fellow coordinator Serge Van der Geyten of Janssen Pharmaceutica, he explained what the project has achieved so far and why the project team is like a family.

PERISCOPE launches first of nine clinical studies

Recruitment is now open for the first clinical study under IMI’s whooping cough project PERISCOPE. The team at the UK’s University Hospital Southampton is running the study, during which healthy adults will be exposed to the bacteria Bordetella pertussis, which causes whooping cough. Through the study, scientists hope to learn more about the immune response generated against B. pertussis and what kind of immune response protects against whooping cough. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, causes severe coughing and can be life threatening for young children and the elderly. Although a vaccine exists, is widely used and is very effective, the incidence of whooping cough has increased in recent years and scientists are keen to find out why. By delivering tools and knowledge on the disease, PERISCOPE contributes to efforts to develop new, better vaccines against whooping cough.

Sign up for the GetReal course on real-world evidence in medicine development

IMI’s GetReal project will run the first edition of an interactive online course entitled ‘Real-world evidence in medicine development’ from 2nd October to 12 November 2017. Under the supervision of leading academics from the project, the course will provide students with an introduction to the topics covered by GetReal, and present the current techniques, opportunities and challenges for the use of real-world evidence in medicine development. Participants are expected to come from pharmaceutical companies, regulatory authorities, health technology assessment (HTA) bodies, patients’ organisations, consultancy companies and academia. As such, the course will foster discussion, interaction and mutual learning across all professionals involved in medicine development.

The course will focus on the following topics:

overview of the medicine development landscape real-world evidence generation real-world evidence synthesis decision-making and weighing of evidence demonstrating relative effectiveness to decision-makers

Participants who successfully complete the assignments will be awarded a certificate.

EBiSC to hold workshop on iPSC technologies in drug discovery & therapy

IMI’s stem cell project EBiSC will hold a workshop on ‘Scalability of the iPSC [induced pluripotent stem cell] technology for future drug discovery & therapy’ in Berlin, Germany on 2-3 November 2017. The workshop aims to share learnings from the EBiSC project and address perspectives on stem cell applications over the next five years. According to the project, the event will be relevant for a wide range of groups, including industry representatives considering stem cell investment, stem cell researchers from academia and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), as well as representatives of government policy groups, charities and trade organisations supporting stem cell research.

The full agenda and details of how to register can be found in the event flyer.

The Innovative Medicines Initiative is the largest public-private partnership aiming to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe and to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the pharmaceutical industry association EFPIA.
www.imi.europa.eu

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