A blueprint for public-private partnerships in early drug discovery

19 January 2017

A recent review in Frontier in Medicine describes the outcomes and learnings of the first 3,5 years of European Lead Factory (ELF) operations. It gives an overview of the unique characteristics and results of the programme: ‘ELF enables breakthroughs in areas with unmet medical and societal needs, where no individual entity would be able to create a comparable impact in such a short time’.

In less than four years, IMI’s EU Lead Factory has generated over 4,500 promising hit compounds in 83 successfully completed high-throughput screening campaigns at the industry and public screening centres. More than 120,000 novel compounds have been synthesised, adding to the 327,000 compounds that were made available by participating pharmaceutical companies, giving the project a flying start in 2013. The public-private partnership offers a unique platform for translation of innovative biology and chemistry into starting points for novel drug discovery programmes.

The paper concludes that the EU Lead Factory has matured from a start-up initiative to a well-organised group of over 150 scientists. Furthermore, it has involved researchers in 13 countries with, so far, 72 public screening programmes from the wider European life science community. The outcomes have enabled these scientists to file patents, form new alliances and successfully apply for further grants. More importantly, the results from these programmes can be further developed into drug candidates, tool compounds or diagnostics, contributing to solutions for unmet medical needs. Public-private partnerships such as the European Lead Factory can shape the future of medicines. ‘ELF could serve as a blueprint of how future PPPs might operate, in order to efficiently find cures that could reach patients in dire need of new treatments.’

Read the full publication here.