Bayer HealthCare to coordinate European Lead Factory

The consortium aims to jointly discover new medicines in five-year project

Bayer HealthCare initiated and will coordinate a newly founded pan-European consortium called the European Lead Factory, which has been launched to enhance early drug discovery to address the need for innovative drugs.

The new €196m, five-year project will create a small molecule library collection allowing drug discovery on innovative and promising targets from pharma companies and academia.

Bayer HealthCare and six other pharmaceutical companies, all members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), will collectively contribute at least 300,000 substances to the European Lead Factory initiative. Bayer alone will provide about 50,000 compounds and its expertise in early drug discovery.

Academia and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will also jointly develop a library of around 200,000 compounds in the course of the new initiative.

The chemistry part of the consortium consists of 5 SMEs: Sygnature Discovery (UK); Syncom and Mercachem (Netherlands); Edelris (France); and Taros Chemicals (Germany).

This initiative has the potential to be transformational for drug discovery in Europe

The two libraries will form a Joint European Compound Collection consisting of up to 500,000 compounds that will be accessible to the project partners, public organisations and SMEs who are invited to introduce promising new targets for pharmacological screening. Target proposals will be selected through competitive calls. Thus, drug discovery using the Joint European Compound Collection will be performed on proposed targets from pharma companies as well as targets sourced from the public domain.

An equally important part of the European Lead Factory will be setting up a European Screening Centre with compound logistics and High Throughput Screening (HTS) facilities, which will be located in Scotland and The Netherlands respectively. The highly automated process will allow researchers to screen the Joint European Compound Collection for molecules that could be a promising starting point in the development of new drugs.

Dr Simon Hirst, Chief Executive of Sygnature Discovery, said: ‘This initiative has the potential to be transformational for drug discovery in Europe and should create a new engine for modern discovery. Long-term benefits will hopefully include improved medicines and a strong industrial-academic network with unique expertise.’

The consortium is a public-private partnership supported by Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

Of the total budget, €80m comes from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), and €91m is provided as in-kind contributions from the participating companies that are members of the EFPIA. The remaining €25m comes from other contributions from the non-EFPIA participants.

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