July 1, 2013
By Stephanie Baum
Big pharma’s move to outsource much of its research and development needs to contract research organizations have helped create a thriving CRO industry. The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation wants to help academic institutions and small biotechnology companies connect with CROs to make drug development more efficient. It’s launched a social network it compares to Match.com so drug developers can more easily find people and companies that can support their preclinical development work.
The idea behind ADDF Access is not only to increase awareness among early stage companies and academic researchers of what CROs are, but to also help them make their drug development efforts more efficient and accelerate drug discovery.
“A lot of my old academic colleagues have not even heard of CROs, let alone the services they can provide,” said Rachel Lane, an assistant director of scientific affairs for Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation. “We really provide a novel resource.” She said the foundation has received a lot of interest from the National Institutes of Health, particularly the National Institute for Aging.
In an article published in Nature, members of the foundation and academic institutions highlighted areas where CROs could help small drug developers. For example, it could offer help on recommending different platform technologies, expert guidance in drug discovery, technical expertise that goes beyond what members of the company have, supplementing development experience, offering advice on regulatory requirements for good laboratory practice and good manufacturing practice. CROs can also give rapid evaluation and risk assessment for a project.
“This external reproduction and validation of data is crucial for the successful partnering of a program with larger pharmaceutical partners, venture capital firms and private investors,” the article said.
The foundation has steered away from doing a preferred provider list, although the companies listed in the network are known to the foundation. It recommends those using its network to do their own due dilligence on the companies they consider using.