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Friday, March 14, 2014

New NIH-Industry Partnership Takes on Alzheimer’s Disease

by Mark Moran

A major new public-private collaboration will seek to capitalize on the proliferation of potential biomarkers for common diseases — including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) — and to speed the development of successful therapeutics to the bedside.

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health, ten pharmaceutical companies, and non-profit patient advocacy organizations designed to identify and validate the most promising biological targets of disease for new diagnostic and drug development.

In a Feb. 4 press conference in Washington, DC, partners in the new collaboration described a milestone-driven research agenda focused initially on Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and the autoimmune disorders of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Importantly, a critical component of the partnership is that industry partners will make the AMP data and analyses publicly accessible to the broad biomedical community.

In an interview with Neurology Today, Maria C. Carrillo, PhD, vice president for medical and scientific relations at the Alzheimer’s Association, said AMP is consistent with — and will help to operationalize — the National Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease. That plan, which grew out of the 2011 National Alzheimer’s Project Act, calls for enhanced collaboration between industry, government, and academic research, and outlines a plan to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. The Alzheimer’s Association is a member of the steering committee for AMP for the Alzheimer’s arm of the project.

“AMP will incorporate novel biological markers into ongoing Alzheimer’s prevention trials, allowing a direct comparison of the ability of multiple markers to track the progression of very early stage Alzheimer’s and potentially to predict clinical benefit of a therapy,” Dr. Carrillo told Neurology Today.

                At the February press conference, NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, explained that the partnership grew out of a vision shared by the research community and industry that a new model for drug discovery was needed. While advances in genomics, proteomics, and imaging have vastly increased the number of potential targets for drug discovery, the current process for bringing a drug to the bedside is costly and fraught with error. “We want to increase the odds of picking the right targets and pick them at the very beginning of the development process, and so avoid wasting time and money chasing down duds,” he said.

                See the full story on the partnership in the March 20 issue of Neurology Today. For our previous coverage of national Alzheimer’s initiatives, browse our archives: