Medicines discovery for challenging diseases requires a collaborative approach with a patient focus. In 2019 the Medicines Discovery Catapult established the Psychiatry Consortium as one of its patient focussed partnerships. It is a strategic collaboration of two leading medical research charities and seven international pharmaceutical companies, focusing on the unmet therapeutic needs of people living with mental health conditions.
The scale and impact of mental illness are huge. One in ten children and one in four adults (approximately 15 million people) experience mental illness each year, affecting their wellbeing, relationships, and potential ability to work. The economic and social cost of mental illness has been estimated as £105 billion a year in England alone. There have been no new, effective types of treatment for over 30 years and new treatments are needed urgently.
The lack of novel drug targets combined with the challenge of validating them pre-clinically and the high failure rate in clinical trials have led to reduced investment in drug discovery and development in the last decade.
The Psychiatry Consortium partners provide funding, collaboration, and knowledge exchange, to revitalise drug discovery in psychiatry by strengthening collaborations across the sector – committing approximately £4 million in research funding to deliver up to 10 high-value drug discovery projects over three years.
The Psychiatry Consortium has launched five calls for research projects and engaged with over 400 research institutions in 75 countries worldwide. It has created a partnership to investigate a new drug target for the treatment of schizophrenia and an international collaboration that seeks to define a new pharmacological approach to treat depression.