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The US government, Big Pharma and non-profit organizations have agreed to work together in a novel approach to finding effective treatments for lupus and other diseases. Called AMP (Accelerating Medicines Partnership), the collaboration would involve pooling research and information in the early stages. All “partners” in the project would be able to learn from the work of others in the group. The emphasis would be on finding biomarkers that would aid in the development of targeting drugs.
AMP grew out of the frustration of patients and doctors. Access to effective drugs for devastating diseases, such as lupus and Alzheimer’s, is woefully limited. Progress in finding new treatments has been slow. One of the reasons for this, some have suggested, is that competing firms doing research often duplicate the efforts of each and thus waste valuable time. If all the research results could be pooled and both private and public resources dedicated to exploiting those results, progress might be realized.
The unique aspect of AMP is that although competing private companies would pool information on the early end of research efforts, at some point competing companies would separate and develop their own products. These, then, could be sold for profit. Pooling information would no longer be part of the process.
While AMP seems to offer great potential for advances in the treatment of certain diseases (the list is limited to lupus, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes), there are some researchers who question the approach. Dr. Michael D. Lockshin, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, wonders if the AMP approach for lupus is too narrow in focus. Dr. Lockshin explains that lupus is a disease of many manifestations. He believes that effective treatments for lupus may emerge from AMP but that to eradicate the disease completely, “...you will need to go into other fields.”
AMP is projected to continue for five years. Results are scheduled to be reviewed regularly. Whatever questions may be raised about narrow focus or eventual profits reaped, one thing is certain: millions of people will benefit if this collaboration yields effective treatment for even one of the targeted diseases.