Created by on 06/19/2012

On June 4th and 5th, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a workshop to provide input to the National Institutes of Health on implementation of the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN). Authorized in 2010 as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as the healthcare reform bill, CAN was established to reduce significant barriers to successful translation and accelerate the development of high-need cures. It is housed in the newly authorized National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS).            
The workshop brought together representatives from academia, industry, and government to consider how to maximize the usefulness and impact of CAN, which was funded with $10 million in the fiscal year 2012 appropriations cycle. Participants were asked to consider potential tools, methods, and approaches that hold promise for accelerating translational science; identify how CAN could effectively use the research spending authorities granted to it under the law; explore models for public-private collaborations that could be strengthened or facilitated by CAN; and discuss barriers and potential solutions to forging these partnerships and facilitating coordination with the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory review process.
The drug discovery process, some speakers noted, would benefit from project prioritization; long-term planning rather than episodic grant-based funding; and an “open source” approach that decentralizes discovery, declassifies drug development data, and makes compound libraries freely available. Speakers recommended CAN focus its early efforts on developing tools for predictive toxicology; stimulating research to determine whether induced-pluripotent stem cells could be used to identify, screen, and test drug targets; creating and validating new animal models; and facilitating the identification of research collaborators and the training of translational researchers. The IOM will provide a summary of the workshop to NCATS and the CAN Board in the near future.