INNOPHARMA pharmacogenomics platform at the University of Santiago de Compostela
INNOPHARMA is a drug discovery Galician (Spain) initiative that combines Genomics and Drugs Screening Platforms, led by Dr Ángel Carracedo and Dr Mabel Loza. It is located at CIMUS (Center for Research in Molecular Medicine and Chronic Diseases) of the University of Santiago de Compostela and is financed by the EU Technology Fund, via the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.
The pharmaceutical sector has undergone a profound crisis leading to a paradigm shift. As a result, a new, more flexible, focused and collaborative way of working is emerging, according to the “open innovation” model. Thus, opportunities for pre-competitive research are increasing and the chance to develop open innovation models is becoming apparent. Early drug R&D is contracted out, thus providing investment opportunities in low cost standardized services (scale-up, pharmaceutical technology etc.) as well as investment in high cost non-standard skills.
In Galicia, there is currently a gap between the basic research on new therapeutic mechanisms and the industrial application of the findings of such research. INNOPHARMA aims to fill this gap by undertaking projects that will add value to scientific findings and transfer the corresponding knowledge to drug discovery programs. Thus, by establishing strategic collaborations between public and private bodies, INNOPHARMA aims to potentiate the biopharmaceutical sector in Galicia and to convert it into an international leader in the field of early stage drug discovery.
The initiative has three main fields:
• A high throughput pharmacogenomics platform that applies industrial standards in the in vitro early drug discovery assay panels.
• Constant development of an outstanding chemical library of compounds.
• A pipeline of programs with international participation selected by scientific advisory board.
In its first call for research projects, INNOPHARMA has received 110 project proposals, of which 8-10 were initially selected for further development. The proposals were included in five therapeutic areas: Neurological and Psychiatric diseases, Metabolism, Cancer, Inflammation and Rare Diseases.
Selected projects were clasified in the following categories according to their stage of development in the process of early drug discovery:
1. Open-lab projects. Projects with high scientific quality, which are in an initial stage of development. Some of them are proposals focused on potential therapeutic targets that are yet to be validated. For these projects, a go-no go point is established before proceeding with next steps.
2. Hit to Candidate projects. Projects in early stages of development (many already have identified specific molecules with potential to be a drug candidate). They are best suited to the capabilities of the INNOPHARMA platform, which gives them a great added value.
3. Preclinical stage projects. Projects in advanced stages of development; next step would be to obtain a drug candidate that can get into clinical phases.
INNOPHARMA platform is now developing its sustainability plan, using innovative tools for public-private partnership.
This initiative is founded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (2007-2013)