European Autism Interventions - A Multicentre Study for Developing New Medications (EU-AIMS) - is the largest single grant for autism in the world, and the largest for the study of any mental health disorder in Europe.
EU-AIMS involves a novel collaboration between organisations representing affected individuals and their famillies (Autism Speaks), academia and Industry who for the first time in the world have come together to develop the infrastructure underpinning new treatments for autism. Patient organizations, academic and industry join forces to develop and assess novel treatment approaches for autism.
An international consortium of scientists, led by Roche and King's College London, has launched one of the largest ever research academic-industry collaboration projects to find new methods for the development of drugs for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
The overall objectives of the project EU-AIMS
There are no effective pharmacological treatments for the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and our understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease is poor. Research is hampered by a lack of valid and reliable cellular assays and animal models; an absence of tests that demonstrate efficacy in healthy volunteers from childhood to adulthood; and the reliance of clinical trials on biologically heterogeneous groups of patients as operationally-defined by DSM/ICD10 categories. Further, even if novel treatments were developed, there is no EU platform to test them clinically. Despite these limitations, the recent identification of genetic risk factors for ASD provides unique opportunities to substantially improve this situation. We therefore propose an integrated, translational, effort to achieve key objectives for ASD research, which will deliver new research tools and standards for clinical development, and pave the way for drug discovery and clinical trials.
We need to harness these new developments to develop treatments that are driven by the likely biological basis of ASD, and tests and tools that identify and stratify patients with distinct disease subtypes. EU-AIMS has three overarching objectives:
A. Development and validation of translational approaches for the advancement of novel therapies to treat ASD
B. Setting new standards in research and clinical development to aid the drug discovery process
C. Identification and development of expert clinical sites across Europe to run clinical studies and trials, and the creation of an interactive platform for ASD professionals and patients.
We will couple this integrated research effort with the development of new training opportunities and the implementation of new analytical approaches.
By the end of the 5 year project we expect to provide novel validated cellular assays, animal models, new fMRI methods with dedicated analysis techniques, new PET radioligands, as well as new genetic and proteomic biomarkers for patient-segmentation or individual response prediction. We will provide a research network that can rapidly test new treatments in man. These tools should provide our EFPIA partners with an added competitive advantage in developing new drugs for ASD.