European Lead Factory – the project

Project General Aspects

Who runs the European Lead Factory?

The EU Lead Factory is an open innovation platform for drug discovery, funded under the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and managed by an international consortium of currently 20 partners. Those partners include eight members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), and many different academic institutions and SMEs.

How is the EU Lead Factory governed?

A summary of governance and operational roles is available on the governance page.

What is the EU Lead Factory’s goal?

As a unique public-private partnership, the EU Lead Factory aims to provide best-in-class resources and funding-in-kind to academics or SMEs working on promising drug targets. The goal is to discover novel small molecule candidates, suitable for subsequent optimization towards drug candidates.

How can I take part?

Participants are now actively invited to submit screening proposals.

What are the benefits of participating?

By taking part as a programme owner, you benefit from state-of-the-art resources and become a member of a highly specialised team. Accepted screening programmes benefit from screening against the Joint European Compound Collection of ‘drug-like’ compounds, using advanced uHTS and compound management facilities. The screening process has been designed to provide high levels of collaboration and feedback – it involves working closely with highly experienced specialist teams.

What is the Joint European Compound Library (JECL)?

One part of the JECL is formed by the compound collection contributed by the eight EFPIA members. This collection contains 300,000 high quality compounds that are known to be ready for development and which have until now been distributed across many different proprietary collections. The EU Lead Factory has built a further collection of 200,000 publicly submitted compounds in the past years. The final result is a Joint European Compound Library (JECL) of around 500,000 active compounds.

What disease areas are being targeted?

At present, submissions for all disease areas are welcomed. That includes targets relevant to oncology, immunology, cardiovascular, CNS, respiratory and neglected diseases.

What will my target be screened against?

Screening programmes selected by the Selection Committee are screened against all compounds in the JECL that are available.

What happens after I submit a proposal?

Initial triage takes place at the EU Lead Factory Programme Office, assessing feasibility and novelty, followed by a review and selection process. If selected, your assay passes to the EU Lead Factory’s screening facilities. See submission process and EU Screening Centre.

What happens during screening?

All experimental work is performed by Consortium Partners, supported by IMI funding. Your input will include specific scientific knowledge around your proposal and might include assay materials (DNA plasmids, proteins etc). You will receive a Qualified Hit List (QHL) of up to 50 compounds and all related biological data generated.

What are the publication and exploitation rights for my programme?

You are free to decide for your own screening programme whether results (in part or whole) will be advanced for the purpose of direct exploitation and/or purely for research use, except that publication of results will be withheld until the option rights granted to the EFPIA Participants for direct exploitation can be evaluated. See rights and obligations for a full breakdown.

What screening facilities are used by the EU Lead Factory?

The Pivot Park Screening Centre (PPSC) in Oss provides automated cellular and biochemical in-vitro screening experiments, and High Throughput Screening (HTS) services. Compound management is provided by BioAscent in Newhouse, Scotland – formerly part of Merck Sharp & Dohme research labs.

What are the criteria for successful proposals?

Broadly speaking, a proposal must be novel (new target, new assay approach or new chemistry for existing targets) and of the highest scientific quality, and an HTS-compatible assay must be available.

Can I make more than one submission?

Yes. Submissions are judged entirely on scientific grounds.