REMEDi4ALL launched today with the aim of making a major leap forward in drug repurposing. This promising approach to drug development consisting in the identification, testing, and validation of new therapeutic indications for existing medications, is a developing field but faces numerous barriers and systemic inefficiencies. Still, its potential to significantly bring down times and costs of drug development -it focuses on already approved, discontinued, shelved or investigational therapeutics- makes this novel strategy attractive for rare and neglected conditions, cancer, emerging public health threats such as COVID-19 or new drug combinations. It also translates into more sustainable health systems.
To advance knowledge in this field and address substantial obstacles -fragmented and siloed research; non-standardised datasets; heterogenous quality of computational tools; poor patient engagement or lack of incentives and policies to support and enhance drug repurposing- the European Union (EU) through the Horizon Europe (HE) programme will invest 23 million euros in REMEDi4ALL over the next 5 years. It is expected that, due to REMEDi4ALL, more (and better) repurposed therapeutics will be widely available thanks to more agile, cutting-edge development processes, ultimately contributing to increased sustainability of health systems.
A favourable eco-system for drug repurposing
The project kicks off with the ambition of establishing a European research and innovation eco-system that facilitates fast and cost-effective patient-centric development and access to repurposed medicines. To this end, REMEDi4ALL will:
- build a state-of-the-art platform to provide expertise and services across the complete value chain (scientific, methodological, financial, legal, regulatory, intellectual property) for patient-centric medicine repurposing at every development stage and in any disease area.
- assemble advanced in silico tools for Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), open datasets and tools and expertise required to understand the mechanism of action of specific medicines.
- create a global community of practice connected in a think-tank-like environment through impactful multidisciplinary activities and events.
- train and educate the next generation of researchers, clinicians, patients, policymakers, regulators and funders in cutting-edge drug repurposing tools and processes.
- favour dialogue and debate to advance policy and fair access to repurposed medicines across the EU.
REMEDi4ALL has selected four medicine repurposing projects in different stages of development to demonstrate the viability of the newly created platform. Each project covers a different therapeutic area with high unmet medical needs– pancreatic cancer, COVID-19, rare diseases and ultra-rare diseases. These projects will first be onboarded to ensure a patient-centric approach before testing all elements of the platform to optimise its tools and services.
A multidisciplinary effort to cover every aspect of drug repurposing
The REMEDi4ALL consortium brings together a unique combination of expertise to address the complexities of drug repurposing. Under the leadership of EATRIS, the European infrastructure for translational medicine, 24 organisations in the fields of clinical and translational research, clinical operations, patient engagement and education, regulatory framework, funding, governance, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) or pricing and reimbursement will closely collaborate to make drug repurposing mainstream.
ECRIN will lead the work package on clinical development and implementation in which an inventory of resources and gap analysis will be carried out, recommendations and a blueprint for the establishment of a clinical repurposing platform will be developed, a dedicated services platform will be created. Provision of services for the clinical demonstrator(s) will be the opportunity to validate and refine the service offer.
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