ULTRA-DD paves way for stronger cooperation with patients

Patients already have a big role in many IMI projects, for example by helping with patient recruitment or advising on best practices in clinical trials. Now the ULTRA-DD project is taking it one step further. In the past year, several patient organisations, including Myeloma UK and The Brain Tumour Charity, have committed to sponsoring postdoctoral researchers, whose scientific outputs will contribute directly to the ULTRA-DD project. The sponsorship of about €1.5 million for the next two years will be done through the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), one of the partners in ULTRA-DD. With this step, these organisations will become directly involved in the scientific aspects of the project, helping to speed up the development of medicines for diseases which they are most interested in. ‘There are more and more patient organisations taking the matter into their own hands from the early stage drug discovery to the clinical studies’, said Wen Hwa Lee of the SGC. ‘At the moment every foundation is trying to do something on their own, for their own disease. In our view, the best option would be to give these disease foundations access to an open research platform so they could be clustered around the ULTRA-DD project. We believe that could be the foundation of a completely different way of working that could enable faster drug discovery.’ The main goal of the ULTRA-DD project is to speed up the development of truly innovative medicines, especially in the areas of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Through the SGC, ULTRA-DD has strong ties with similar initiatives elsewhere in the world, and this, coupled with the project’s strong open access policy, will ensure that the tools generated by the project will benefit the entire scientific community.