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Roche and the Broad Institute Collaborate to Find New Uses for Abandoned Compounds

Latest agreement, among a growing list of repurposing collaborations, looks at more than 300 failed drugs.


The Burrill Report

“The compounds in Roche’s collection are compelling starting points.”

Roche’s Translational and Clinical Research Center said it is collaborating with the Broad Institute on a multi-year effort to find new uses for development stage compounds that had failed to meet the goals of clinical trials in the indications for which they were being developed or had been shelved for strategic reasons.

“Over the last 20 years of drug discovery we have created many drug candidates that did not make it to market,” says Karen Lackey, head of medicinal chemistry at Roche. “By compiling these compounds into an annotated set and collaborating with the Broad Institute to put to use its technologies and disease expertise, we hope to discover ways to repurpose these compounds that will be beneficial for patients.”

The collaboration is the latest in a growing list of agreements aimed to turn investment in drug development already done into beneficial uses. The thinking is that while such compounds may have failed for the indications they were meant to target, much work has been to move them toward market. Testing for new uses of these compounds could provide a cost-effective and speedy way to push new therapies to market.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom’s Medical Research Council said it is providing a total of $11 million (£7 million) in funding up to 15 research projects that will seek to find new uses for 22 AstraZeneca compounds that had been studied but shelved for a variety of reasons. That follows that National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences or NCATS launch in May 2012 of a collaborative program with leading pharmaceutical companies to find new uses for drugs that had failed to work in the indications for which they were being developed. In 2013, about $20 million will be used to support grants of up to three years for pre-clinical and clinical feasibility studies to test more than 20 compounds from industry partners for their effectiveness against a variety of diseases and conditions. Other deals have paired top pharmaceutical companies with academic institutions in similar efforts.

Under the agreement between Roche and the Broad Institute, Broad will use its screening technologies to work through the Roche Repurposing Compound Collection, a collection of more than 300 compounds intended for a wide variety of indications. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Broad will screen the entire collection and link advanced compounds to novel patient populations through common biochemical pathways. This approach is expected to reveal unique targets for new drug discovery projects. Additionally, the company said novel disease associations may be found that will lead to new clinical evaluations in which the compounds may have a higher probability of success.

“The compounds in Roche’s collection are compelling starting points,” says Brian Hubbard, director of the Broad Institute’s Therapeutics Discovery and Development Platform. “If we can find new applications for them, we may be able to accelerate the process of finding the right drug for the right patient.”

November 30, 2012

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