Dec. 18, 2014: NCATS Collaborating with Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation Network

In recent decades, scientists have made rapid progress both in understanding countless diseases and in generating technologies that offer unprecedented potential to advance the translation of basic science discoveries into new medical treatments. However, most diseases have little or no treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the process of developing new therapeutics is fraught with uncertainty and failure. For every 10,000 promising compounds that enter the development pipeline, only a few currently make it into the nation’s medicine chest.

NCATS works to make translation more efficient and effective through new collaborative structures, innovation in technology and methods, and a relentless focus on deliverables that are useful to patients. Today, I’m pleased to announce NCATS’ latest success, which embodies all of these approaches: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is joining the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) network of Pfizer, Inc.

Created in 2010, the Pfizer CTI is an entrepreneurial research unit that pairs leading researchers with Pfizer resources to pursue scientific and medical advances through joint therapeutic development. In addition to NIH, the network includes 25 academic institutions and four patient foundations. The goal of this new collaboration is to identify biologic compounds with activity in a pathway or target of interest to an NIH intramural researcher and to Pfizer, then attempt to move these compounds into the clinic rapidly to test them.

The CTI structure is designed to bridge the gap between early scientific discovery and clinical application through public-private resource sharing. The partnership will combine NIH intramural scientists’ knowledge of disease mechanisms with Pfizer’s expertise in drug development.

NIH intramural researchers selected for CTI projects will have identified disease-related pathways or mechanisms as potential therapeutic targets and will have access to Pfizer’s drug development resources. These include Pfizer’s proprietary preclinical drug discovery tools and technologies, preclinical study and regulatory expertise, and support for investigational new drug applications to the FDA to move potential treatments into human clinical trials. A joint NIH-Pfizer steering committee will govern the partnership and be responsible for selecting and making decisions about the progress of each research program.

This new NIH-Pfizer collaboration will enable NIH scientists to move novel disease targets into therapeutic development using industry-standard translational tools and expertise. Most importantly, this agreement provides more hope for patients, who will benefit from two of the world’s largest research organizations working together to develop more treatments faster. And that is what NCATS is all about.

Christopher P. Austin, M.D.
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences