Europe’s largest initiative to accelerate therapy development for COVID-19 launched

The CARE consortium will accelerate R&D by bringing together expertise from research institutions and pharmaceutical companies.
By Tammy Lovell
08:02 am
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A European consortium has been launched to accelerate the discovery and development of urgently needed medicines to treat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe (CARE), is the largest undertaking of its kind dedicated to creating effective therapies with a positive safety profile and repurposing existing therapies for the pandemic.

It aims to boost R&D by bringing together the leading expertise and projects of 37 teams from academic, non-profit research institutions and pharmaceutical companies into a comprehensive drug discovery engine. It will integrate partners’ COVID-19 projects ongoing since February 2020.

The five-year project is supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and has received a grant of €77.7 million, funded by cash contributions from the European Union and contributions from 11 European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) companies and three IMI-associated partners.

Researchers will undertake drug repositioning; small-molecule drug discovery based on in silico screening and profiling of candidate compounds; and virus neutralising antibody discovery.

After testing in the laboratory, the project will advance the most promising drug candidates to clinical trials in humans.

WHY IT MATTERS

There are currently no licensed vaccines and only limited therapy options against COVID-19. By uniting innovative and experienced scientists from relevant areas in collaboration, CARE aims to accelerate the path to providing solutions for both the current pandemic and potential future coronavirus outbreaks.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

CARE brings together partners from Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US, and is led by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (VRI-Inserm), Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG.

ON THE RECORD

Professor Yves Lévy, executive director of the VRI-Inserm and CARE coordinator, said: “Beyond the scientific excellence of the different teams involved in this very ambitious project, CARE is bringing together 37 partners in an alliance pooling their expertise and know-how around an ambitious five-year work plan to develop therapeutics against the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Clive R Wood, corporate senior vice president and global head of discovery research at pharma company, Boehringer Ingelheim said: “The CARE consortium aims to unleash the power of open science and collaboration in the service of society. We will work quickly and decisively in an unprecedented spirit of cooperation with our partners in academia and industry to defeat the unprecedented menace of COVID-19 and other serious coronavirus diseases.”

Kumar Saikatendu, director, global research externalisation at Takeda said: “COVID-19 is a once in a lifetime scientific challenge for our generation. CARE aims to create effective therapies with a positive safety profile for current and future coronaviral outbreaks. We hope to move fast and have a meaningful impact in a timely manner.” 

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