The National Institutes of Health has awarded grants to 11 research groups across the United States to establish the Accelerating Medicines Partnership in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus (AMP RA/Lupus) Network.
Launched in February of this year, the NIH AMP Program is a public-private partnership developed to transform the current model for identifying and validating the most promising biological targets for the development of new drugs and diagnostics.
Through a competitive process, the AMP RA/Lupus Network Leadership Center and Research Sites were selected, and $6 million of first-year funding was awarded on Sept. 24, 2014. The network will implement the goals of the broader AMP RA/Lupus Program.
“These awards represent the first phase of an unprecedented approach to identify pathways that are critical to disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “Insights gained from this effort hold the promise of enhancing quality of life for patients and family members affected by these and other devastating autoimmune diseases.”
RA and lupus are relatively common, severe autoimmune diseases. These disorders share similar flaws in immune function and regulation, leading to inflammation that damages tissues. RA and lupus can last a lifetime, cause severe disability, greatly affect quality of life, and are associated with increased risk of early death.
“To date, treatments for RA and lupus have been aimed at decreasing inflammation and pain,” said Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). “For the first time, we are bringing together multidisciplinary research teams to achieve a broad, systems-level understanding of these diseases, setting the stage for the development of more effective diagnostic and treatment approaches.”
Over five years, the AMP RA/Lupus Network will analyze the interplay among biological pathways, including at the single cell level, in tissues of patients with RA and lupus. The goal is to integrate data from multiple genome-wide analytic approaches to generate a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of tissue damage in RA and lupus.
“This program promises to lead to more diagnosis and treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). “We also anticipate that the flexibility of the program will enable investigators to advance research on related diseases, thus improving our overall understanding of autoimmunity.”
Funding is provided by NIAMS and NIAID, and the following members of the AMP: AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda, the Arthritis Foundation, the Lupus Foundation of America, the Lupus Research Institute/Alliance for Lupus Research, and the Rheumatology Research Foundation.
“A critical component of the AMP initiative is that NIH and industry partners have agreed to make the AMP data and analyses broadly available to the biomedical research community,” said Maria C. Freire, Ph.D., president and executive director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, which manages the AMP. “This pre-competitive model of sharing results, risks, and resources can dramatically accelerate drug development and lead to the modification of existing therapies for these challenging diseases.”