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AE holds a lunch debate on IMI – the Innovative Medicines Initiative

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Michel Goldman, Executive Director of IMI, was the featured speaker at Alzheimer Europe’s lunch debate on 18 February in the European Parliament. Hosted by French MEP Françoise Grossetête, the debate focused on the current and future activities of IMI - the Innovative Medicines Initiative. Ms Grossetête, who is also the Chair of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance (EAA), welcomed the 60 participants and presented a short outline of IMI.

The IMI public-private initiative began in 2008 as a five year partnership between the EU and EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. By 2013, IMI had funded 44 research projects with EUR 2 billion. The partnership is set to continue, as “IMI 2” is well on its way to final approval of some EUR 3.4 billion in EU funding. This will allow IMI 2 to award funds to numerous research projects, including speeding up the identification of new treatments and finding cures for neurodegenerative diseases.

Mr Goldman’s presentation showed how IMI acts as a European engine for therapeutic innovation. He particularly stressed the importance of collaboration between the scientific and medical communities in researching new treatments. Collaboration is a key principle of the IMI programmes: recent history indicates that no single company, institution or government will be able to develop effective treatments, particularly for neurodegenerative diseases.

However, a collective approach can improve the productivity of all researchers. Mr Goldman explained that the level of collaboration increased remarkably during the IMI years. He predicted that this will continue, leading to faster progress for all disease areas. To date, IMI has invested EUR 167 million in four dementia research projects that aim to:

- develop models to predict the efficacy of drug candidates in patients.

- connect data on 40 million individuals to decipher links between genetic background, biological abnormalities and other factors.

- identify subgroups of the disease, allowing tailored therapies according to the different variables involved.

- implement innovative trial designs.

Delegates at the lunch debate included MEPs Hiltrud Breyer (Germany), Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland), Angelika Werthmann (Austria) and Marina Yannakoudakis (UK). Other participants included representatives from the European Commission, the pharmaceutical industry and 19 representatives from 19 Alzheimer Europe member associations.