Discovering and developing a new medicine is always challenging, but we’ve learned from experience that some diseases are more difficult to understand than others. Those that generally occur late in life and progress gradually, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are amongst the most difficult. Many research and development organizations, including ours at GSK, have worked on new treatments for this devastating form of dementia, which is estimated to affect 36 million people worldwide.
So far the pharmaceutical and scientific communities haven’t had a great deal of success. Some medicines have made it into the late stage clinical trials, only to show no efficacy. It turns out that this type of problem is almost greater than one company or organization can tackle alone – it needs to harness the collective efforts of the broad scientific community.
Recognizing the huge medical need and difficult research considerations for Alzheimer’s and other diseases, we have been working with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), other pharma companies and non-profit groups to come up with solutions. As a result of more than a year of meetings and discussions, the NIH today announced the creation of a consortium of 10 pharmaceutical companies, including GSK, and nonprofits to form the Accelerating Medicines Program, or AMP.
This unprecedented new partnership brings high-level government and industry partners together to identify and validate the most promising biological targets of disease for new diagnostic and drug development. In addition to Alzheimer’s, the AMP will take on on type 2 diabetes and the autoimmune disorders rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Over the next three years, we will work not as competitors but as partners to tackle these fundamental scientific challenges.
For the Alzheimer’s pilot, we’ll draw together biomarker information, brain scans and clinical trial data for the first time. We’ll provide resources, including funding, for external research and also go back into our own labs to work and then report back every six months on our progress. The AMP data will be made publicly accessible to the broad biomedical community for further research. That’s a first. And then we hope we’ll have a new starting point for drug discovery and development for some of these most challenging diseases.
Over the last few years GSK has been on a journey to develop and deepen the working relationships we have with academia, government agencies, biotechs and venture capital companies and yes, even other pharma companies, with whom we are now collaborating on clinical trials using combinations of our medicines. We think it’s a winning strategy that ultimately will result in the development and discovery of transformational new medicines for patients.