The European Commission and the US announce joint research efforts on rare diseases
The European Commission (EC) and the USA’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) held a joint workshop in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 27-28 October, to discuss ways in which to foster transatlantic cooperation on research into rare diseases. The two institutions plan to coordinate their research funding on rare diseases and to make major investments in this research field in the years to come. The objective is to accelerate medical breakthroughs for people affected by rare diseases – which is the case for 6 to 8 % of the EU population. The European Commission also announced that it will earmark in 2011 more than €100 million for research and innovation on rare diseases, including clinical trials of promising treatments already stemming from European research. This will be the largest single investment in this research field done by the European Commission.
The Icelandic workshop gathered 40 participants from the EC and the NIH administrations, as well as representatives from patient organisations, the biopharmaceutical industry, and academia. The discussions allowed a review of the successful initiatives already taken on both sides of the Atlantic, and an exploration of what could be developed in common to speed up R&D. This workshop was the first step of a process through which the EC and the NIH hope to establish an ambitious international research programme to speed up the development of diagnostic and therapeutic solutions for patients.
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