Translating research in the laboratory into medicines in the real world can be frustratingly slow, so the NMSS has set up this project in the hope of speeding things up:
National Multiple Sclerosis Society Launches Drug Development Initiative 28 November 2007
Fast Forward Program Will Bridge the Gap Between University Research and Drug Development, Speeding New Treatments for People With MS
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society today announced the creation of Fast Forward LLC, a technology-transfer initiative aimed at translating promising laboratory discoveries into effective new treatments for multiple sclerosis.
Fast Forward, a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, will identify, evaluate and partner with start-up and existing companies to develop new therapies or repurpose existing drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Fast Forward is currently evaluating business proposals and plans to make initial investments in early 2008.
The National MS Society is one of only a handful of health-related foundations and nonprofit organizations in recent years to create technology-transfer programs, driven in part by the lack of progress in drug development for certain diseases. Other examples include the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Timothy Coetzee, executive director of Fast Forward, said some private corporations are hesitant to invest the time and money needed to develop MS-related treatments because the potential market is considered relatively small. The worldwide market for MS-related therapies is estimated at $4 billion annually, with just six drugs currently available for people with multiple sclerosis.
“It is our responsibility to find innovative and effective ways to fill the gap between university knowledge and commercial treatments and to meet our commitment to people with MS,” Coetzee said. “We won’t hit homeruns on every investment, but when we do, it will change the future for people living with this disease.”
Fast Forward has already secured $4.5 million of the $30 million it plans to raise during the next six years to fund the investments. Fast Forward expects revenue from the program, generated from royalty and milestone payments achieved from the successful development and commercialization of treatments.
“There is no easy answer to finding treatments for MS, but the answers are there and Fast Forward can help us find them,” said Howard Weiner, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School. “This is an important step in finding better treatments for this disease.”
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society exists to make sure it doesn't. We help each person address the challenges of living with MS, and through our 50 state network of chapters, we devoted nearly $126 million to programs that enhanced more than one million lives to move us closer to a world free of MS. The society also invested more than $46 million to support 380 research projects around the world. We are people who want to do something about MS now.
Fast Forward, LLC is a nonprofit organization established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in order to accelerate the development of treatments for MS. Fast Forward will accomplish its mission by connecting university-based MS research with private-sector drug development and by funding small biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative new MS therapies and repurpose FDA-approved drugs as new treatments for MS.
Source: National Multiple Sclerosis Society (28/11/07)