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New toolkit launched to help navigate medicines repurposing

  • New free online toolkit helps researchers, charities and others navigate the opportunities and challenges of repurposing medicines for different indications
  • The toolkit was developed in consultation with scientific, industrial and regulatory experts and launched at the Beacon Drug Repurposing Conference

London, 10 October: Medical research charity LifeArc and the Medical Research Council (MRC) have today launched a repurposing medicines toolkit, to help navigate the complex journey of medicines repurposing.

The toolkit will help researchers, charities and others to prepare for the key activities, potential challenges and important questions at each development stage on the repurposing journey, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that patients get access to life-changing treatments faster.

Medicines repurposing offers new avenues for treating a range of common and rare diseases - it can reduce the costs and timeframes, and is potentially a rich source of treatments, but the journey of exploring these in other diseases can be challenging.

Developed in consultation with scientific, industrial and regulatory experts, the toolkit signposts users to a wealth of existing information. It includes advice on the key issues and considerations for medicines repurposing at each development stage, such as research steps for demonstrating safety and efficacy, the regulatory environment, patient engagement, accessing the medicine and existing data, intellectual property considerations and funding sources.

Sarah Sharples, who lives with a rare lung disease and receives a repurposed medicine, comments: “As someone whose life has benefited from a repurposed medicine, I am so pleased to hear this resource will provide support, and help more drugs give new hope to more people.”

Professor Patrick Chinnery, MRC’s Clinical Director said: “Having learned the challenges of repurposing first hand, I think this toolkit is enormously practical and valuable. The major opportunities presented by repurposing are speed, so medicines can reach patients faster, and lower costs, which is needed both within the NHS and lower-income countries”

Dr Joanna Davidge, Principal Business Manager at LifeArc, said: “Repurposing medicines offers exciting potential for bringing life-changing new treatments to patients with common and rare diseases, much faster.

“While the path to patients will be unique for each project, the new toolkit will provide useful guidance to support charities, researchers and others embarking on a repurposing journey. It will help them to navigate the potential roadblocks and find ways to overcome them – helping to improve the likelihood of potentially life-changing medicines reaching the people who need them.

“People can start using this free online resource today. We would welcome feedback, so we can continue to improve it, as well as hearing how it is being used.”

 helps to progress research by providing advice, grant funding and support, so that innovations can be developed into the next generation of diagnostics, treatments and cures. The toolkit was created following demand from a roundtable hosted by LifeArc and Pinsent Masons last year. A report from the event, ‘Repurposing medicines: the opportunity and the challenges’ was published by LifeArc.

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Last Updated: 10-Oct-2022