ULTRA-DD – Collaborative open source consortium to validate new targets for drug discovery

Toronto, Canada, May 25, 2015. 

Pharmaceutical companies who are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) join forces with small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) as well as universities and hospitals in an Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) supported public private partnership, ULTRA-DD. In this project, we aim to define and validate new drug targets in inflammatory and auto-immune diseases by testing high quality chemical probes and antibodies in patient-cell derived assays to facilitate a greater understanding of disease pathology.


ULTRA-DD (Unrestricted Leveraging of Targets for Research Advancement and Drug Discovery) is a highly collaborative consortium of 10 partners comprising academics at the University of Oxford, ETH-Zurich (Switzerland), Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) the University of Toronto (Canada), and scientists in Bayer, DiscoveRx, Janssen, Novartis and Pfizer. The aim of ULTRA-DD is to define and validate new targets for drug discovery by generating high quality research tools and profiling them in models of human inflammatory and auto-immune diseases using patient and human primary-cell derived assays and tissue. These reagents, and associated knowledge, will be made available to the research community without restriction. Targets selected will be linked to genetic and epigenetic signaling mechanisms, involved in the initiation and progression of inflammatory and auto-immune diseases.

The goal of ULTRA-DD is to provide enhanced packages of data, which will allow the pharma and biotech industries to initiate higher quality and more readily translatable drug discovery and development programs. ULTRA-DD was launched in March 2015 and will run for five years with significant funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (budget of €21.2M), with equal cash and in-kind contributions from the EFPIA companies. 

"I believe that the ULTRA-DD open source partnership will constitute a unique organizational model for how patients and disease foundations can collaborate with academia, industry and clinical centers to search for new treatments", said Aled Edwards, the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) Director and CEO, and ULTRA-DD's Project Director.

ULTRA-DD partners:

  • Bayer Pharma AG, Germany
  • DiscoveRx Corp Ltd, United Kingdom
  • Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule (ETH), Zürich, Switzerland
  • Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Belgium
  • Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
  • Novartis Pharma AG,  Switzerland
  • University of Oxford,  United Kingdom
  • Pfizer Limited, United Kingdom
  • Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), United Kingdom
  • University of Toronto, Canada

About the Innovative Medicines Initiative

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EFPIA.

More information can be found at www.imi.europa.eu  


The research leading to these results has received support from the Innovative Medicines Initiative Joint Undertaking under grant agreement n° 115766, resources of which are composed of financial contribution from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and EFPIA companies’ in kind and cash contribution.


This communication reflects the views of the ULTRA-DD Consortium and neither IMI nor the European Union and EFPIA are liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.
For further information on ULTRA-DD, see     www.ultra-dd.org 


Aled Edwards, Project Director             aled.edwards@utoronto.ca
Nils Ostermann, Project Coordinator         nils.ostermann@novartis.com
Michael Sundström, Scientific Director         michael.sundstrom@ki.se 

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