The U.K.'s Medical Research Council (MRC) has inked a partnership with seven pharmaceutical firms—AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Research & Development, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Takeda, and UCB—giving U.K. researchers access to a virtual library of deprioritized compounds to use in disease research and the development of new medicines.

The compounds in question received their deprioritized status after undergoing a certain amount of industry development that stalled during early testing, frequently for not being effective enough against the diseases they were being tested to treat. However, the MRC believes, with a little help from academic researchers, they may prove useful against other diseases with shared biological pathways.

The council also believes that, because most of the preliminary safety testing has already been done, new treatments based on these compounds may come to fruition more quickly. A previous collaboration between the MRC and AstraZeneca launched in December of 2011 has, according to the council, already started yielding results, with a new treatment for chronic cough starting to undergo its first human trials.

“By funding studies using these compounds, which otherwise would not be carried out, we will enable scientific breakthroughs that will improve the health of patients in the U.K. and worldwide,” said Stephen Whitehead, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, in a statement.

The MRC plans to publish a full list of available compounds later this year, around the time that U.K. scientists will be able to apply for MRC funding to use them in research projects. The council adds that there is no fixed budget for the program, which it says will make the compounds available on a continuous basis via the MRC’s response-mode funding mechanism. 

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