European Lead Factory – the project

Project General Aspects

Who runs the European Lead Factory?

The EU Lead Factory is an open innovation platform for drug discovery, funded under the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and managed by an international consortium of 30 partners. Those partners include seven members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and many different academic instititions and SMEs.

How is the EU Lead Factory governed?

A summary of governance and operational roles is available on the governance page.

What is the EU Lead Factory’s goal?

As a unique public-private partnership, the EU Lead Factory aims to provide best-in-class resources and funding-in-kind to academics or SMEs working on promising biology targets or chemistry scaffolds. The goal is to discover novel small molecule candidates, suitable for subsequent optimization either to drug candidates or to high‐quality pharmacological tools for the experimental validation of targets. Ultimately, the aim is to address neglected diseases including bacterial infections, psychiatric disorders and oncology.

How can I take part?

Participants are now actively invited to submit biology targets and chemical scaffolds.

What are the benefits of participating?

By taking part as either a target programme owner or compound contributor, you benefit from state-of-the-art resources and become a member of a highly specialised team.There are monetary rewards for accepted scaffolds. Accepted biology targets benefit from screening against the Joint European Compound Collection of ‘drug-like’ compounds, using advanced uHTS and compound management facilities. The screening process has been designed to provide high levels of collaboration and feedback – it involves working closely with highly experienced specialist teams.

What is the Joint European Compound Library (JECL)?

On day one of the EU Lead Factory project, a compound collection contributed by the seven EFPIA members was immediately available for screening. This collection contains 300,000 high quality compounds that are known to be ready for development and which have until now been distributed across many different proprietary collections. The EU Lead Factory is rapidly building a further collection of 200,000 publicly submitted compounds. The final result will be a Joint European Compound Library (JECL) of around 500,000 active compounds.

What disease areas are being targeted?

At present, submissions for all disease areas are sought. That includes targets relevant to oncology, cardiovascular, CNS, respiratory and also neglected diseases.

What will my target be screened against?

Target programmes chosen by the Compound Selection Committee are screened against all compounds in the JECC that are available at the point of selection.

What happens after I submit a target?

Initial triage takes place at the EU Lead Factory Programme Office, assessing feasibility and novelty, and a review by the Screening Selection Committee follows. If selected, your assay passes to the EU Lead Factory’s screening facilities. See submission process and EU Screening Centre.

What happens during screening?

All experimental work is performed by Consortium Partners, supported by IMI funding. Your inputs might include assay materials (DNA plasmids, proteins etc). You will receive an initial Qualified Hit List (QHL) of up to 50 compounds, and at the discretion of the screening centre, focused chemistry activities that lead to an Improved Hit List (IHL).

What are the publication and exploitation rights for my biology target?

You are free to decide for your own target programme whether results (in part or whole) will be advanced for the purpose of direct exploitation and/or purely for research use, except that publication of results will be withheld until the option rights granted to the EFPIA Participants for direct exploitation can be evaluated. See rights and obligations for a full breakdown.

What screening facilities are used by the EU Lead Factory?

The Pivot Park Screening Centre (PPSC) in Oss provides automated cellular and biochemical in-vitro screening experiments, and High Throughput Screening (HTS) services. Additional screening capacity is available at the University of Dundee group in Newhouse, Scotland. Compound management is provided by the Automated Compound Store (ACS) in Newhouse, Scotland – formerly part of Merck Sharp & Dohme research labs.

What are the criteria for successful biology target submission?

Broadly speaking, a target must be novel (new target, new assay approach or new chemistry for existing targets) and of the highest scientific quality, and an HTS-compatible assay must be available.

What are the criteria for chemistry compound design proposals?

Any promising compound design proposal that complements the EU Lead Factory screening collection is considered. A proposal needs to describe between 100 and 5000 compounds that might be prepared (for example, by decoration of a common scaffold).

Can I make more than one submission?

Yes. Submissions are judged entirely on scientific grounds.