June 2012

NIH pilot program to accelerate therapeutic discoveries

Additional information

NCATS – Discovering new therapeutic uses for existing molecules

Request for information

Notice of intent to publish a request for pre-applications

The NIH announced last month a new program, “Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules,” established through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The program was devised to test new models of collaboration and to quickly provide therapies for diseases currently lacking effective treatment — approximately 4,250 out of almost 4,500 diseases with a known cause. The NCATS has partnered with Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly and Co. to supply researchers with more than 20 shelved compounds for testing their efficacy against various diseases.

The initiative is expected to accelerate the development and application of successful therapies. For researchers and academic institutions the advantages include 1) access to drug candidates (and relevant data) that have passed phase 1 trials but are no longer in development and 2) the right to publish findings and keep intellectual property developed during the study. The advantages for pharmaceutical companies include 1) the ownership of drug candidates, 2) the first option to license intellectual property that results from the study, and 3) the option to develop and market the drug further.

Studies of up to three years will be funded by the NCATS, which has allocated $20 million for the program. The due date for pre-applications is slated for July.


Danielle GutierrezDanielle Gutierrez (daniellebgutierrez@gmail.com) a freelance science writer based in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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