Immune cells in the spotlight
Innovative Medicines Initiative awards 30 Million Euro grant supporting research into novel tracer strategies for clinical imaging of immune cell dynamics
The Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking (IMI2 JU) project ‘Immune-Image’ has been approved for funding and will start officially [October 1st, 2019]. Immune cells will be studied in vivo using non-invasive and clinically applicable high-end imaging techniques including Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Optical Imaging (OI) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The introduction of immunotherapeutic drugs for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory disease, where the drugs encourage the body’s own immune system to attack the disease, have had a significant impact. However, immunotherapies do not work for all patients. Immune-Image will develop methods to visualize and study the immune cells involved before, during, and after such treatments allowing selection of the right treatment for the right patient and at the right time. The information obtained about the immune cells and their activity during disease could be used to develop new drugs that might help those patients for which current immunotherapies are ineffective.
Immune-Image brings together 10 top European academic institutions, 4 small-to-medium sized enterprises, 1 patient organization and 7 pharmaceutical companies. The expert scientists working at the partner organizations of Immune-Image will collaborate to develop new imaging techniques, new tracers, new methods, and to facilitate efficient development of drugs in the future in order to improve health care for the European Citizen and beyond.
Developing new medicines is difficult, costly, inefficient and time-consuming. The IMI2-JU, a joint technology initiative between the European Union (EU) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), supports collaborative research projects that bring together all the parties involved in health research (universities, pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises, patient organizations, medicine regulators) to improve the entire development process and make it more efficient, giving patients faster access to better and safer medicines.
The project is coordinated by Prof Albert D. Windhorst, Amsterdam University Medical Center, location VUmc, The Netherlands, with scientific project leadership from F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Basel, Switzerland. The project is intended to run for an initial period of 5-years with a total research budget of € 30,000,000; of which € 15,000,000 comes from the EU in the form of a grant and € 15,000,000 being financed by the pharmaceutical company partners (EFPIA), in the form of in-kind or in-cash contributions to the project.
The project is supported by a scientific board, chaired by Prof Sanjiv Gambhir, Stanford, USA and an ethics board, chaired by Prof Michael Fuchs, Linz, Austria. These boards will advise the consortium on research strategies and ethical issues.
This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 831514. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA.