The Psychiatry Consortium acts as a vehicle to bring together the international wealth of scientific knowledge in the academic community with the extensive drug discovery know-how of the industry members, to turn promising research into world-class drug discovery projects which identify novel solutions to address mental health conditions including psychiatric symptoms associated with dementia.
Mental health conditions have seen a rise of 13% between 2007 – 2017, and the two most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, cost the global economy US$1 trillion a year.
Similarly, dementia affects over 850,000 people in the UK and is now the country’s second leading cause of death, costing £26bn a year but only allocated 4.5% of the total medical research budget in 2016/17. These conditions have substantial effects on wellbeing, relationships, education, ability to live independently and can have devastating effects.
The lack of novel drug targets combined with the pre-clinical validation challenge and the high failure rate in clinical trials, has led to reduced investment in drug discovery and development in the last decade.
As a result, there have been no new effective types of treatment for psychiatric disorders for over 30 years. Most current treatments are ineffective with detrimental side effects, and finding the right treatment is typically a process of trial and error. Patients will not receive the genuine breakthroughs in treatment needed to improve their conditions without sustained research investment.
The Psychiatry Consortium comprises two leading medical charities, including Alzheimer’s Research UK and MQ: Transforming Mental Health and seven pharmaceutical partners Biogen, Boehringer Ingelheim, COMPASS Pathways, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Lundbeck, MSD and Takeda, managed by Medicines Discovery Catapult and supported by the Wellcome Trust. Established in 2019, the Consortium brings together global knowledge and expertise in research, target validation, translation, and patient-centric approaches.
The Consortium facilitates new and necessary innovative research approaches to revitalise psychiatric drug discovery by strengthening academic-industry collaborations and has thus far launched four calls for research projects and engaged with over 400 research institutions in 75 countries worldwide. Collectively, the strategic partners aim to provide ~£4m in research funding over three years, delivering up to 10 high-value drug discovery projects. International collaboration means diversity of thought and approach, which can stimulate unique opportunities and exposure for UK business and implement benefits that can achieve worldwide impact.
The process provides a mechanism to ‘pull-through’ academic ideas. It validates them to industry standards, enabling their pre-clinical development and, ultimately, translation to the clinic. To date, the Psychiatry Consortium has funded two research projects, with a healthy pipeline of projects currently in development. The Consortium has presented at nine international research conferences, delivered six webinars with over 500 views, delivered two interactive workshops with global key opinion leaders and delivered one virtual symposium, with a total of 1,500 registrants.