Deprioritised pharma compounds collection opens to researchers

A collection of 68 deprioritised pharmaceutical compounds is being made available to academic researchers through a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC) and seven global drug companies.

From today, UK scientists can apply for MRC funding to use any of the compounds in medical research studies to investigate the underlying mechanics of disease. The compounds are extremely valuable to academic researchers, who can use them to study other diseases.

AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Research & Development LLC2, Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda and UCB have each offered up a number of their deprioritised molecules as part of the partnership, first announced in the summer by business secretary Vince Cable.

Both clinical (those already tested in humans) and preclinical compounds feature in the extensive collection, the largest of its kind in the world. The collection includes molecules developed initially for a wide range of diseases including for cancer, ADHD, narcolepsy and diabetes. At least 24 are known to cross into the brain, which might make them particularly interesting for neurological studies.

The compounds have all undergone some degree of industry development, but have stalled at some point in early testing. They may help to identify new ways of interrupting the disease process, which could in turn lead to the development of new medicines.

As many of the compounds in the library have already been shown to be suitable for human tests, any new treatments arising from the research could reach patients much faster. For example, a project funded through a previous compound sharing partnership between the MRC and AstraZeneca has already reached human trials.

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC, said: “I can’t wait to see what innovative new ideas will spring up from our talented UK science base now that three times as many compounds are on the table.”

Dr Neil Weir, Chair of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI) Innovation Board said: “The ABPI and its members are delighted to be leading the way worldwide with the MRC and initiatives such as this.”

It is hoped that more companies, and more compounds, will be added as the scheme progresses.