Action on age-related conditions
The incidence of frailty, and a loss of muscle strength, rises with age. Those affected often experience tiredness, weight loss, frequent infections, falls, and confusion, as well as difficulties with mobility. Many will need assistance to carry out simple daily tasks and activities. Although frailty is widespread, it is often under-diagnosed.
The Call includes a topic that will use frailty and the associated loss of muscle mass and strength as a paradigm for the development of better treatments for other age-related conditions. Although the number of Europeans aged 65 and over is set to rise from 85 million in 2008 to 151 million in 2060, today's healthcare and associated regulatory systems are not geared towards this growing segment of the population.
This topic will help to speed up the development of new, more effective treatments for frailty and muscle loss. The project will include a large-scale clinical study to compare the effectiveness of a state-of-the-art treatment programme centred around physical activity with a healthy ageing counselling programme without regular physical activity.
IMI Executive Director Michel Goldman commented: "All too often, frailty goes undiagnosed and untreated, with serious consequences for patients' mobility and quality of life. This project demonstrates how IMI, by bringing together all stakeholders involved in health research, can make progress in areas where effective treatments are currently lacking."
Tapping into social media to monitor drug safety
Recent years have seen an explosion in the use of social media, applications ('apps') and online platforms that allow people to share news and information and connect with one another in unprecedented ways. At the same time, legislation requires the relevant authorities to monitor the safety of medicines by gathering information on adverse drug reactions (ADR) experienced by patients. Currently this takes place via official forms. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, many ADRs go unreported.
One of the main objectives of the proposed WEBAE ('Web Adverse Events') project is to develop tools to tap into the wealth of content that is openly available online to both detect ADRs, and provide patients with the most up-to-date drug safety information.
Tackling the challenges of antimicrobial resistance
The 9th Call also expands IMI's programme on antimicrobial resistance, 'New Drugs for Bad Bugs' (ND4BB). The focus of one of the topics is the urgent need to develop a new business model for antibiotic development that will reinvigorate investments in this vital area. The project resulting from this topic will have to tackle a contradiction at the heart of antibiotic development: on the one hand, pharmaceutical companies make money by selling large volumes of the drugs they develop. On the other hand, the use of new antibiotics should be restricted, so as to minimise the risk of bacteria developing resistance to them. As a result of this situation, sales are low and the costs of development often exceed the potential return on investment. This new project will develop concrete recommendations for new commercial models that provide industry with an incentive to invest in this area while ensuring that new antibiotics are used wisely.
In addition, IMI's 9th Call for proposals includes a topic on the clinical development of antibiotics to treat resistant Gram-negative pathogens, such as Escherichia coli. Drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria are responsible for two thirds of the 25 000 deaths resulting from antimicrobial resistance reported in Europe annually. This new topic focuses on gathering data on the best-available therapy for hospitalised patients with serious infections caused by multi drug resistant organisms. These data will help to better design clinical studies, thereby increasing the efficiency of antibiotic R&D. This will be tested with a new combination medicine targeting serious Gram-negative infections.
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The deadline for submitting Expressions of Interest is 9 October 2013.