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Can We Teach Old Compounds New Tricks?

London
Innovation Center July 31st, 2014

Different diseases can share a biological pathway and that is why studying compounds initially developed for one disease as a potential treatment against a different one may improve our understanding of a range of diseases and offer the chance to develop more effective treatments.

This idea was a key factor for the Neuroscience team at Janssen in its decision to enter, in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and six other pharmaceutical companies, into a collaborative program  with the British Medical Research Council (MRC) that offers UK-based researchers the opportunity to access certain compounds  that are not in active development.

We are pleased to participate in this academic-industry collaboration aimed at speeding the identification of new therapeutics for patients. 

Under the program, deprioritized compounds or biologics can be tested by an academic group in a study or a series of studies leading up to a clinical proof of concept.  Often the academic group will test the compound in a different indication than the one the pharmaceutical company was testing.   

We laid the groundwork for participation in this type of program a few years ago when we collaborated with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the NIH. The first of these partnerships was with professors at Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Pittsburgh and aimed to test a Janssen compound for its potential benefits in smoking cessation and cognition.  Preclinical testing was performed by the academic group, laying the groundwork for clinical proof-of-concept. 

The project emerged from an academic crowdsourcing effort by the NCATS/NIH.  Fifty-eight candidate compounds were listed on a website and academic teams reviewed and made a case, in the form of an application for a contract, for each new POC effort.  Nearly 150 initial applications were submitted, and eventually a handful of proposals were selected for funding by the NIH.  In a second round of proposals, Janssen submitted compounds from its Neuroscience and Immunology teams.

Now, through the MRC program we are making available certain compounds from our Neuroscience portfolio for use in potential new studies at academic centers in the UK to improve the understanding of brain and other disorders, with the potential to help develop effective new treatments. 

The value created by our teams in advancing new medicines to the clinical stages is immeasurable.  Through programs like this we can leverage the excellent work undertaken by the discovery and early development teams at Janssen before a program was deprioritized. 

It is a reality of our business that not all programs move forward, but through repositioning collaborations we can facilitate further opportunities to test new proof-of-concept ideas that could benefit patients with these valuable resources.

This program is a great example of our commitment to open innovation, advancing great science and sharing resources to speed the development of new medicines for urgent healthcare needs.

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