Despite countless efforts of the global scientific community to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and its negative consequences for global health and the economy, there is an evident need for new approaches to protect humanity from future pandemics.
Given the fact that current technologies and processes to respond to a viral pandemic like COVID-19 take several years from preclinical research until a new drug is available to the general public, governments, academia, and industry are now called upon to become active.
The independent biomedical research institute BioMed X located on the campus of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, one of the largest biomedical research hubs in Europe, is tackling this challenge by launching its Rapid Antiviral Response Platform. The aim is to develop an arsenal of ultrafast new antiviral drug discovery, development, and mass-manufacturing tools that will make it possible to go from the identification of a new viral pathogen to 10,000 doses of a safe and potent new medication ready for clinical studies or compassionate use in less than six months.
“We need to make sure that this will never happen again. The time is right to start a worldwide effort to reinvent antiviral drug discovery and to develop tools and processes which are at least 10 times faster than the current state of the art,” says Dr. Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of the BioMed X Institute.
In the last seven years, BioMed X Institute has successfully established a new innovation model which combines global crowdsourcing with local incubation of the world’s brightest early-career research talents. Since 2013, global players like Merck, Boehringer Ingelheim, AbbVie, Roche, and Johnson & Johnson have been working with BioMed X to solve big preclinical research challenges in high-risk exploratory fields of biomedicine. Working at the interface between academia and industry allows BioMed X to truly combine the best of both worlds: free, creative, and curiosity-driven research with solid product engineering, timelines, and deliverables.
“We invite all pharmaceutical companies, foundations, public health organizations, government agencies, and healthcare funds worldwide who want to create impact in the field of pandemic preparedness to join our RAR initiative. The RAR Platform will consist of eight project modules, each focusing on a different viral target space across a wide spectrum of virus genera infecting humans or animals. Each company or organization who joins the RAR Consortium can freely choose to support one of these eight project modules,” Tidona continues.
All members of the RAR Consortium are requested to make an equal financial contribution and will receive equal worldwide rights in the resulting RAR Platform. At the end of the five-year project term, the results of all eight project modules will be transferred to each member of the RAR Consortium. This means that all members of the RAR Consortium will have equal semi-exclusive worldwide rights to use all components of the resulting Rapid Antiviral Response Platform for any commercial or noncommercial purpose.
“It’s all about getting a safe and potent new medication to the patients in need as fast as possible. To reach this ambitious goal, we are looking for like-minded partners who share our values, our passion for science, and our aim to create impact for humanity. We at BioMed X are convinced that scientific excellence and diversity are the source for real innovation,” Tidona concludes.
More information about the BioMed X Institute, the RAR Platform, and how to become part of this unique initiative, can be found online at: bio.mx/landingpage/rar.