Leiden University: National Growth Fund invests many millions in faster and more sustainable (cancer) drug development

On 14 April, the National Growth Fund awarded million euros in grants to two consortia in which Leiden’s science faculty is involved. Pharma-NL will receive 80 million euros and Oncode-PACT 325 million euros. Pharma-NL wants to make medicines available to the patient faster and more sustainably. Oncode-PACT wants to develop valuable candidate cancer medicines more quickly and cheaply and thus get them to patients sooner.

Oncode-PACT: cancer medicines available to patients more quickly
The development of a drug takes an average of ten to fifteen years, from the time of the first scientific discovery to the time when patients can use it. At the end of this lengthy process, it too often turns out that the candidate drug is not effective enough. Or it does not reach the right patient for other reasons. That is what Oncode-PACT wants to change. By using patient data and tissues at an earlier stage in the drug development process, and by making optimal use of artificial intelligence, it can be established earlier in the process whether a drug is effective and safe.

Mario van der Stelt is involved from Leiden University. He is Professor of Molecular Physiology and one of the workstream leaders of Oncode-PACT. ‘The Leiden Early Drug Discovery network of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences focuses on improving and accelerating drug development. Oncode-PACT will give the development of small molecule drugs an enormous boost. Both within the university and in interdisciplinary cooperation with industry’.

Pharma-NL: developing new medicines more efficiently
Pharma-NL’s growth fund application has been conditionally approved by the National Growth Fund. The award gives a major boost to new activity within the pharmaceutical sector. The national public-private consortium Pharma-NL consists of among others Leiden University, LUMC and Campus Groningen.

With the granted 80 million euros, Pharma-NL will focus on strengthening and scaling up the research facilities and stimulating the related human capital. This is a major impulse that will stimulate new business activity within the pharmaceutical sector. This is an important precondition for both innovative therapy development and innovations in drug production technologies.

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