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The European Lead Factory: Collective intelligence and cooperation to improve patients’ lives
“The European Lead Factory and ESCulab empower industry and academia to join forces to change patients’ lives.”
While researchers from small and medium-sized companies and academic institutions often have enormous numbers of ideas, they don’t always have enough time or resources to develop them all. As a result, many ideas get left behind because companies and academics typically have to focus on narrow areas of research. This is known as the “Innovation Gap”. ESCulab (European Screening Centre: unique library for attractive biology) aims to turn this problem into an opportunity by creating a comprehensive library of high-quality compounds. This will serve as a basis for testing potential research targets against a wide variety of compounds.
Any researcher from a European academic institution or a small to medium-sized enterprise within the consortium can apply for a screening of their potential drug target. If a submitted target idea is positively assessed by a committee of experts it will be run through a screening process and the submitting party will receive a dossier of up to 50 potentially relevant substances that can serve as starting points for further drug discovery activities.
ESCulab will build Europe’s largest collaborative drug discovery platform and is equipped with a total budget of € 36.5 million: Half is provided by the European Union’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and half comes from in-kind contributions from companies of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries an Associations (EFPIA) and the Medicines for Malaria Venture. It builds on the existing library of the European Lead Factory , which consists of around 200,000 compounds, as well as around 350,000 compounds from EFPIA companies. The European Lead Factory aims to initiate 185 new drug discovery projects through the ESCulab project by screening drug targets against its library.
Grünenthal is proud to be part of this strong, pan-European public-private partnership. Together, the participating companies and researchers will be empowered by access to a broad library of high-quality compounds that they can use to create life-changing treatments for patients. The platform has already provided a major boost for drug discovery in Europe and is a strong example of how crowdsourcing, collective intelligence and the cooperation within the IMI framework can create real value for academia, industry, society and patients.
Acknowledgement of support
This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No. 806948: ‘ESCulab: European Screening Centre; Unique Library for Attractive Biology’. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations and the Medicines for Malaria Venture.