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12 December 2013 1:00 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
In an ambitious project to study 1000 years of sickness and health, researchers are excavating the graveyard of the now...
Stefan Behnisch has won awards for designing science labs and other buildings that are smart, sustainable, and...
The iconic 125-year-old Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton near San Jose, California, is facing the threat of closure...
Recent results from the Curiosity Mars rover have helped scientists formulate a plan for the next phase of its mission...
A new, remarkably powerful drug that cripples the hepatitis C virus (HCV) came to market last week, but it sells for $...
In pretoothbrush populations, gumlines would often be marred by a thick, visible crust of calcium phosphate, food...
Evolutionary biologists have long studied how the Mexican tetra, a drab fish that lives in rivers and creeks but has...
Victorian astronomers spent countless hours laboriously charting the positions of stars in the sky. Such sky mapping,...
- 12 December 2013 1:00 pm , Vol. 342 , #6164
- About Us
NIH's New Drug Pipeline for Neglected Diseases
20 May 2009 2:58 pm
The National Institutes of Health, a bastion of basic research, is making a foray into developing drugs. NIH leaders today announced a $120 million, 5-year plan to set up a drug development service center at the agency. The center's chemists and toxicologists will modify promising compounds until they're ready to be tested in people. The focus will be on rare and neglected diseases.
"This initiative really is new," said acting NIH Director Raynard Kington in a press conference today. NIH has "never tried to directly develop medications for rare and neglected diseases"—or done much drug development, period. The Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program builds on NIH's $100-million-a-year Molecular Libraries Program, a small-molecule screening program that some say is replicating work by drug companies. But NIH officials say they will target diseases that industry is ignoring. "It is not TRND's intention to compete with pharmaceutical and biotech companies," said Stephen Groft, director of the NIH Office of Rare Diseases Research.
The program will have space somewhere near NIH’s main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and will be staffed with scientists recruited from industry. They will take potential drugs discovered at NIH and at universities and tweak their chemistry so the compounds work well in humans without causing toxic side effects—a slow, hard process. Then either NIH or a company will apply to the Food and Drug Administration to test the compounds in clinical trials. NIH could profit from licensing the drugs, but "that's not our goal," said Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. NHGRI will oversee the center, which will get its $24-million-a-year budget from each of NIH's 27 institutes and centers.
One challenge will be choosing the diseases. NIH says there are 6800 rare diseases and others that are considered neglected, mostly infectious diseases that plague the developing world. A panel of scientists and patient advocates will help pick diseases based on scientific opportunity, Groft said.