The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) was developed in 2014 as a way to address 3 main problems in the development and testing of new medications. These 3 problems are that drug development and testing are very expensive, they can take a long time, and they often times fail completely. AMP was developed by Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in conjunction with the heads of many pharmaceutical companies. AMP’s efforts focus on 3 diseases, which are Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Type II Diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis/lupus erythematosus. This article focuses on the role of AMP in AD and how it could change the development of new drugs for AD through 2 projects, which are the Biomarkers Project and the Target Discovery and Preclinical Validation Project.
Biomarkers Project: The goal of this project is to develop novel imaging techniques and to identify fluid biomarkers in people who are clinically determined to have a greater risk of developing AD later in their life (to make this clear, these people DO NOT have AD already!). People are determined to have a greater risk of developing AD if they have one of the three gene mutations that produces early-onset dominantly inherited AD, because they have two copies of the late-onset genetic risk factor for ApolipoproteinE-ε4 , or because they already have beta-amyloid in their brain that was detected by a PET scan (beta-amyloid is the characteristic “plaque” that builds up in the brains of those with AD). This project aims to develop clinical trials in people with a predisposition to AD so that drugs can be developed to prevent the onset of AD.
Target Discovery and Preclinical Validation Project: The main goal of this project is to discover, select, and characterize novel therapeutic targets for AD. In order to reach this goal, AMP is focusing its research on gaining a better understanding of gene, protein, and metabolic networks in human brains where these novel targets would operate and interact, identifying biologic nodes and networks that are linked to the development or progression of AD, and by evaluating the drugability of the targets in multiple model organisms. This project is using genomic, epigenomic, RNA sequencing, and proteomic data derived from studies of over 2000 postmortem human brains from people who had AD or were cognitively normal.
A critical aspect of AMP is how it utilizes an IRB-approved data sharing platform where data can be stored, accessed, and collaboratively analyzed by all members of the AMP-AD research team. There has not been a new therapy approved by the FDA for the treatment of AD since 2003, so AMP’s hope is that this new and comprehensive research platform will help produce a much needed new drug(s) for the treatment of AD. AMP’s hope is ultimately that their platform will stretch to many AD researches across the globe so that a vast communal effort can be put forth to develop new medicinal therapies for treating AD.
I think this is a great new platform in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. AD is so common in older adults, and it is pretty astounding to think that there has not been any new drugs approved for the treatment of AD since 2003! We learned in Anatomy and Physiology I that AD is starting to be recognized possibly as “Type 3 Diabetes” because researchers are starting to find that beta-amyloid “plaque” in AD patients’ brains may be caused by insulin issues. I personally think AMP’s platform is an innovative way to approach research on a global scale because it seems like AD is so complicated that it may take a widespread effort among researchers from different parts of the world to truly figure out how to combat the disease through medicinal therapies.
My posed question to colleagues: What do you think are the risks and benefits of having a platform like AMP’s to further research in hopes of developing new drug therapies for specific disease states such as AD?
Hodes, RJ, Buckholtz, N. Accelerating Medicines Partnership: Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP-AD) knowledge portal aids Alzheimer’s drug discovery through open data sharing. Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2016;20:1-4.