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Explore This IssueApril 2014
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The Rheumatology Research Foundation is taking part in an unprecedented partnership aimed at better understanding rheumatoid arthritis and lupus with the goal of faster discovery of new treatments. The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is led by the National Institutes of Health. Several major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, along with the Rheumatology Research Foundation and similar nonprofit organizations have also joined. The partnership is focused on speeding up the process of determining viable potential targets for new drugs.
Right now, only about half of people affected by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who take the most effective therapies, including biologics, see a significant drop in disease activity. Meanwhile, people affected by the most severe forms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) have no effective targeted therapies available to them.
The goal of AMP is to provide RA and lupus patients with better targeted treatments earlier by speeding up the process of developing new drugs. The partnership is investing more than $41 million in projects that will map the RA and SLE disease processes in greater detail than before. Large amounts of data will be collected from individual cells that are critical to disease onset or organ damage. The resulting data and analysis will be shared with the broad biomedical community. Others can then use that information to find specific cell interactions connected to the diseases and develop drugs that target those interactions and interfere with disease activity. The hope is that discoveries made and shared through this partnership will help cut the costs and time it takes to develop a drug from early discovery through approval by the FDA.
For the Rheumatology Research Foundation, participation in AMP is an additional way to extend the organization’s commitment to advancing discoveries in autoimmune diseases.
“I believe this innovative partnership has the potential to yield major breakthroughs that will benefit researchers, doctors and patients alike,” explains David Karp, MD, PhD, president of the Rheumatology Research Foundation. “If the program is successful, it may also open the door for many similar discoveries in other autoimmune diseases that would mean better treatments for even more patients, which is an important goal for the Foundation.”
Currently, about half of the nearly $13.3 million in funding offered by the Foundation is reserved specifically for research into rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of inflammatory arthritis. The rest funds research into a wide range of rheumatic diseases, including RA and lupus, but also vasculitis, gout, scleroderma and others.
Through its participation in the partnership, the Foundation will play an important role by being involved in developing grants offered through AMP. As applications for grants are submitted, the Foundation will also discuss which projects being considered for funding.
“By taking part in this partnership, we will give patients and the doctors who treat them a voice throughout the process,” says Steve Echard, IOM, CAE, executive director of the Rheumatology Research Foundation. “Our goal at the Foundation is to support efforts that will improve the health of people impacted by rheumatic disease. We will bring that focus to the partnership and push for the most relevant and promising research that is in line with our mission.”
To learn more about the Accelerating Medicines Partnership, visit the program’s website (www.nih.gov/amp).