NIH, drug companies team up to target diseases
February 4th, 2014
02:41 PM ET

NIH, drug companies team up to target diseases

The National Institutes of Health is partnering with researchers from 10 rival drug companies and several nonprofit organizations to develop new and earlier treatments for diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer's and lupus.

The partnership, announced  Tuesday by NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, "could change the way scientific research is conducted."

"This is an unprecedented partnership, bringing the best and brightest scientists from the public and the private sectors together to discover the next generation of drug targets that are going to transform our ability to treat Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and that's just getting started,” Collins said.

The consortium will be known as the Accelerating Medicines Partnership.  It will focus at first on three disease groups: Alzheimer's, diabetes and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Tuesday's announcement brought together the heads of a number of major pharmaceutical companies and directors of organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association and the Lupus Foundation, all of whom say they believe that the partnership will be the next step toward discovering the causes of these diseases and treating them.

The consortium is a huge step for better understanding the scientific makeup of these illnesses, said Dr. William Chin, executive vice president of science and regulatory affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

“We don't understand the causes of many of these diseases. In fact, we also appreciate that many of them may have many causes. By combining these academic and industry leaders, we can pool our knowledge to make better drugs that can target these conditions," he said.

Shanelle Gabriel, a performance artist who was diagnosed with lupus 10 years ago, said the partnership is her next hope to finding a better way to live with the disease through a drug designed to treat her condition.

"Many of the medications I've been on were not for lupus," Gabriel said. "They were for other diseases. I was on medications that are pre-chemotherapy treatments. I've been on medications for people accepting liver donations, kidney donations or things of that nature. I've been on steroids, which … is a very toxic drug, but it's the only drug that seems to work. There's only been one drug that has targeted lupus since its existence."

The project will review research already under development and look at ways to pinpoint genes, proteins, chemical pathways and molecular makeup of cells to provide insight into what causes the diseases.  The hope is that this collaboration may speed up the development and approval of new drugs.

The partnership has been in the making for over a year. Dr. Mikael Dolsten, president of worldwide research and development for Pfizer, believes that by working together, the members will have better direction on how to attack the conditions.

"We are still navigating in a landscape where a lot of this richness in information is not, in a consistent manner, brought together," Dolsten said. "It's fragmented, and it's not easily accessible to fast-moving, drug discovery development projects. It's almost like you're traveling in a landscape of biology, but there are no clear signposts where to go.

"Your maps lack details, and what we would like to have is a precise navigation system - a GPS for human disease. And this GPS is urgently needed, because we have pressing need for patients suffering from many of these diseases, and we are wasting resources and time."

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Becky

    Instead of trying new pills or methods to fight arthritis, why don't you try something that works? It's called topical pain relief.

    It has the prescription strength pain relief that specific pills do, however, there are no pills or side effects. I get my topical pain gels through my pharmacy in the midwest, A&R Pharmacy in Liberty, MO, and simply apply the gel whenever I'm in pain. I've been using it for six months and had more than significant results since going this route and I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with pain and/or pills. I hope this helps!

    February 4, 2014 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laura

      Yep – works for you so it must work for everyone, right?

      February 5, 2014 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
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  2. Timmy Suckle

    I kissed my way up to CEO at a health insurance company. Now I take over $1,000,000 of your health care dollars for NO VALUE ADDED to your health care. And that’s just me. Now think about how many other CEOs, VPs, Directors, Managers, etc. are at my company alone. Now multiply that by thousands of others at hundreds of other health insurance companies. From 10 to 25% of your health care dollars go towards administration that adds NO VALUE to your health care. But my company’s PAC dollars will continue to fool you little people into thinking that a single payer system will be bad. Little people like you are so easy to fool. Little people also don’t realize that a single payer system is the ONLY system that would allow little people (as an entire country) to negotiate better health care prices. Little people don’t realize that the Medical Cartels already know that. And that is the reason why the Medical Cartels spend so much PAC money from the hospitals and doctors lobbying against a single payer system. Some little people say that a single payer system would cost you little people more. But if that were true, then wouldn’t the hospitals and doctors WANT that extra money? Yes they would. So why do the Medical Cartels lobby against a single payer system? It’s because the Medical Cartels know it would allow little people to negotiate better health care prices. And that’s what the Medical Cartels are afraid of. Period.
    But us big wigs at insurance companies, hospitals, and pharmacy companies don’t ever need to worry about health care no matter what it costs. We get our health care paid for one way or another by you little people. And we get the little people that work at our companies to contribute to our PACs. And us big wigs say it’s to protect the little peoples’ jobs. But in reality it would be in the little peoples’ best interest to NOT contribute to the PAC. Again, little people are so easily fooled. I won’t ever have to worry about losing my job with so many little people being brain washed by the Medical Cartels’ PAC money. Not only that, the Medical Cartels’ PAC money is used to elect so many republicans that will never allow a single payer system. Republicans have always fought against any meaningful health care reform. But that’s what our Medical Cartels’ PACs pay them for. Politicians can be bought so easily.
    Pretty soon the only people that will be able to afford health care is us big wigs. And that’s the way it should be. We don’t want you little people using up the resources when we need them. And once again, I thank you little people for capping my SS tax at the $117,000 level. Now I only pay 1.17% SS tax and you little people pay 6.2%. Also, thank you for extending my tax breaks. I’m using the extra money on my vacation houses.

    February 5, 2014 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Esaias

      Go f yourself, CEO p.o.s

      February 5, 2014 at 14:20 | Report abuse |
  3. Becky

    This is an interesting article, but I'm curious; has anyone here looked into topical pain relief to fight arthritis pain? It provides prescription strength pain relief without any pills or side effects. A family member of mine gets topical pain gels through a pharmacy in the midwest, A&R Pharmacy in Liberty, MO, and all he does is apply the gel whenever he's in pain. He has had significant results since going this route and I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with pain and/or pills. I hope this helps!

    February 5, 2014 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. n

    Essential Tremor is the most common and least funded movement disorder. NIH should be funding ET as well as the mentioned diseases.

    February 5, 2014 at 10:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. David

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results- and so Collins and his biomedical buddies in industry wish once again to make money off their insane biomedical research that pays them well-and does nothing for the public. No a single reliable biomarker for diagnosing any painful condition has been found, Biomarker research doesn't work for the public- it is for private profits and not the public good.

    February 5, 2014 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Louise

    I have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis also know as Stills disease. The only treatment is antibiotics for the secondary (strep throat, bronchitis etc.), and aspirin for the fevers which on a full-blown attack reaches 105.8F. I just recently lost my job of 16 years because of an attack-FMLA is a joke. It did not prevent my former company from downsizing me off due to illness.
    I doubt there will be any real research on Stills even though they don’t know what causes it. I have suffered with this for 50 years and there is no money in finding the cause so no one that I’m aware of looking. This research project is for DRUGS so I won’t hold my breath on this rheumatoid arthritis disease finally getting studied.

    April 3, 2014 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
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