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Abandoned drug effort picks up steam

Five more big pharmaceutical companies have joined a nascent effort by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to find new uses for drugs that have been shelved by industry.

Contributions of clinic-ready drugs from the companies — Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutical Research & Development and Sanofi — will bring to 58 the number of compounds that will be available to academic scientists to try to redirect to new purposes, NIH says in a news release. The drugs were abandoned by their developers for strategic reasons or because they simply didn’t work. They have had millions of dollars invested in them and have been shown to be safe in phase I trials.

The programme, the first major initiative of the NIH’s new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), was launched six weeks ago with contributions of some two-dozen drugs from Pfizer, AstraZenca and Eli Lilly. Nature has written about Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules in detail.

Information about the available compounds, including their mechanisms of action, route of administration, and the disease they were originally developed to treat, can be perused here.

The NCATS will make up to US$20 million available to fund awards under the programme in 2013.  Pre-applications responding to this announcement are due by 14 August.



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