Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finding New Uses for Old Drug Candidates

Testing potential drug candidates for safety and effectiveness is a long and expensive process.  Sometimes candidate drugs make it through the first part of the testing process (for safety) and then, either because they weren’t effective for their original purpose or for a business reason the drug company gives up on them.

A lot of money and time has already been invested in some of these drugs just to prove they are safe.  The National Institutes of Health thinks that some of these abandoned drugs could still be useful - the question is, for what?  To find out, NIH has launched a pilot project in which they’ll provide 20 million dollars in grant money in 2013 so that researchers can study these compounds, with the understanding that drug companies will make the drug candidates available to researchers.  The drug companies will retain ownership of the compounds, but the researchers will have the right to publish their findings.

It looks like a win-win situation for all.   Researchers will get access to novel compounds and the right to publish their findings.  The drug companies get free help from academic researchers in determining new uses for compounds that they otherwise would have abandoned.  And for a mere 20 million dollars in government seed money, perhaps some of these abandoned compounds will turn out to be useful after all.

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