A new collaboration funded by in part by $1.1 million from the FDA is working on finding new uses for existing drugs for areas of high unmet medical need — with a pilot project focused on treatments for COVID-19.

The Critical Path Institute (C-Path) this week announced the launch of the CURE Drug Repurposing Collaboratory (CDRC). The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is also supporting the public-private partnership, which aims to create a network connecting major treatment centers, academic institutions and researchers, private practitioners, government facilities and health care professionals around the world.

CDRC will focus on capturing relevant real-world clinical outcome data through the FDA-NCATS CURE ID web platform and mobile app. CURE ID is designed to serve as a centralized source of reliable, curated, clinician-submitted information.

“The CURE ID platform enables clinicians to provide data to a crowdsourced central repository where aggregated clinician experiences can be shared with the global scientific community to help drive innovation,” said NCATS director Dr. Christopher P. Austin in a news release.

In the COVID-19 pilot project, CDRC will use data collected via the CURE ID platform to aggregate global clinician treatment experiences to identify existing drugs that should be studied further in randomized trials to treat the novel coronavirus.

“This initiative led by C-Path, in partnership with multiple divisions and offices within the FDA as well as NCATS/NIH, will help address the scientific and regulatory challenges for drug repurposing,” said FDA principal deputy commissioner Dr. Amy Abernethy. “For COVID-19 patients, time is of the essence and the contribution of cases reported directly by health care providers, followed by rapid analysis of data from the CURE ID platform, provides a much-needed accelerated strategy to generate hypotheses about the potential safety and efficacy of existing drugs and inform subsequent clinical trials.”

The CURE partnership is the second federally funded effort announced this week to identify drug treatments for COVID-19. On June 23, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) said it had awarded Harvard university’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering $16 million to identify and test FDA-approved drugs that could be repurposed to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“While participation of patients in randomized clinical trials of potential COVID treatments is ideal, we recognize that many individuals with COVID-19 are unable to participate in trials,” said Dr. Leonard Sacks, an infectious disease physician and FDA associate director for clinical methodology. “Broad data-sharing of treatment successes and failures will provide information that can be used to inform new trials to find safe and effective therapies for COVID-19.”

More information is available here.