Old Drugs, New Tricks

June 25th, 2010 | Sources: BurrillReport

In an innovative effort to find new uses for existing drugs, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has struck a deal with the Washington University School of Medicine enabling the University’s scientists to access information regarding over 500 pharmaceutical compounds in Pfizer’s archives.

allheatnolightThe 5-year agreement also calls for Pfizer to contribute $22.5 million to the University. Proprietary information will be shared for drugs that are currently on the market and those that failed during  testing. The deal is believed to be the first of its kind in the industry.

The parties expect the partnership can reduce the time-to-market for drugs that are found to have new applications, because the time consuming, pre-clinical (safety) studies have already been performed on these compounds.

“There are two realities in drug discovery,” Don Frail told BurrillReport. The chief scientific officer of Pfizer’s Indications Discovery Unit explained that “the majority of candidates tested in development do not give the desired result, yet those drugs that do succeed typically have multiple uses. By harnessing the expertise at this academic medical center, the collaboration seeks to discover new uses for these compounds in areas of patient need that might otherwise be left undiscovered.”

To foster collaboration, Pfizer developed a web portal that permits Washington University scientists to access clinical and preclinical data regarding Pfizer’s proprietary compounds. An oversight committee composed of scientists from both organizations will evaluate research proposals that have been co-authored by researchers from the University and Pfizer.

Pfizer’s Indications Discovery Unit will move its laboratories closer to the Washington University campus to further promote idea exchange.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for both partners,” Jeffrey Gordon, director of the University’s Center for Genome Sciences told Burrill. “It leverages the complementary strengths and interests of both Washington University and Pfizer.”


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