The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is the Europe’s largest public-private partnership in the Life Sciences. Its aim is to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients, particularly in areas where there is an unmet medical or social need. IMI facilitates collaboration among universities, research centers, pharmaceutical and other industries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), patient organizations, and medicines regulators. Through the IMI2 programme, the budget for the period 2014-2020 is €3.3 billion. Since the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak exploded, also IMI has promptly made significant resources available on the IMI2 Call 21 in order to provide novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools against SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several research groups have worked to apply credible and potentially fundable proposals.
At the University “Magna Græcia” of Catanzaro, the Medicinal Chemistry group, by means of the academic spinoff Net4Science, in collaboration with the Infectivology group of the Department of Medical and Surgery Sciences, have been involved in a new consortium consisting of more than 25 partners dedicated to dealing with the coronavirus emergency with all the available scientific resources.
The project leader is the Virology team of the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, through the scientific proposal entitled “Evolutionary Novel Approaches for a Therapeutic Response Against Pan Coronaviruses (ENTRAP-Covs)” submitted to the IMI2 Call 21 “Development of therapeutics and diagnostics combatting coronavirus infections”. The proposal puts together prominent Italian partners and others located in various parts of Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Hungary, United Kingdom). The network includes universities (Rome Tor Vergata, Catanzaro, Milan, Palermo, Rega Institute KU Leuven, Hamburg, Hannover, Liverpool), institutions and foundations (Istituto Nazionale Malattie Infettive “Lazzaro Spallanzani”, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù of Rome, INSERM of Paris, Fondazione Aviralia, Telethon), SMEs and big pharma companies (Net4Science srl academic spinoff, Chemical and Pharmaceutical Innovation TANK, Pharmacoidea Ltd, Good Clinical Practice Alliance – Europe, Artemis Bio-Support, MiDiagnostics, First Health Pharmaceuticals, Takis, Menarini Ricerche, Menarini Biotech, Zambon, Astra Zeneca, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Diasorin).
The ENTRAP-Covs consortium aims at the following objectives:
1. Repurposing and drug discovery against SARS-CoV-2.
2. Fast early diagnostics.
3. Biomarker identification by analyzing both viral and host factors responsible for SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis.
The partner networking, articulated through specific work packages, will be able to provide innovative diagnostic and therapeutic tools to fight the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, will contribute to the internationalization levels of the University’s research in Europe and will consolidate the performances and competitiveness of the involved companies.
The project was submitted on March 31st 2020 and is currently under evaluation.