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EC promises $187M for ambitious effort to spawn 200 new rare disease drugs

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A few days ago the European Commission mapped out a plan to help spur development of 200 new treatments for rare diseases by the year 2020. And the Commission put its money where its mouth is, committing $187 million for 26 research projects.

In full swing, the research initiative aims to bring together some 300 investigators--academics, biotech and pharma investigators--from 29 countries to work on new treatments related to cardiovascular disease, acute liver failure, rare kidney disease and more. And it adds to a series of initiatives that now account for 100 projects and about $650 million in EC financing. 

"Most rare diseases affect children and most of them are devastating genetic disorders resulting in greatly reduced quality of life and premature death," said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, in a statement. "We hope that these new research projects will bring patients, their families and health professionals closer to a cure and support them in their daily battle with disease."

Rare diseases have become one of the central focuses in the biopharma R&D world. Everyone from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) to a host of startups believe that the promise of a more efficient development program combined with a much better understanding of the genetics of rare ailments make this a growth area capable of spawning dozens of new products. And while the patient populations are small, costs associated with these drugs can be among the highest in the industry.

- here's the story from EurActiv

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