The future of the European Lead Factory – preparing the next phase

13 April 2018

As a public-private partnership, the European Lead Factory (ELF) has already been instrumental in boosting early drug discovery. Its continuing goal is to offer unrivalled opportunities for the discovery of new lead drug lead molecules – to public and private organisations – in order to address unmet medical needs.

ELF is a unique collaborative drug discovery platform started by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) in 2013. To date, 88 disease-related drug targets from the wider scientific community have been accepted. More than 50 academic organisations and biotechs have also already benefitted from a very significant kick-start to their drug discovery programmes. In addition, the prospect of owning intellectual property rights opens up many opportunities for further funding and business development. The value generated by ELF is illustrated by the recently announced partnering deal, by spin-outs, and by investments made in several crowdsourced programmes.

Funding is in place until May 2018, however this does not mark the end of the initiative and the European Lead Factory is seeing growing demand for its activities. The European Lead Factory is fully committed to continued screening of the >500,000-compound Joint European Compound Library (JECL) against further innovative drug targets, and to offering this opportunity to the scientific community.

Many researchers are already standing in queue to screen their drug targets against the JECL. It is our responsibility and ambition not only to extend the active period of the European Lead Factory well beyond May 2018, but also to expand its scope and further increase impact. We are in ongoing discussions with all stakeholders about the future and funding of ELF operations. A diverse set of funders sees the necessity of this unique platform, and the prospects of realizing its full potential. For all of these reasons, we are confident that ELF will continue delivering the innovative services and expertise required to identify the molecules that will lead to the future drugs for patients in need.

We aim to resume enrolment of new programmes by the end of 2018, and we encourage scientists who are interested in screening their target to submit an Intent to Apply.

Other organisations interested in contributing to ELF, or to individual ELF target programmes, are also welcome to contact us.