Published Online: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

A new program aims to identify sooner what chemicals could make successful drugs, as well as whether particular medicines work better in specific patients. The initiative is a partnership between pharmaceutical manufacturers, the National Institutes of Health, and the FDA.

The group wants to raise funds and provide grants for research on certain biological indicators that can point to particular conditions. Biological indicators, referred to as biomarkers, also could cut back the time it takes to bring a new product to market in many ways, including choosing better patients for clinical trials, according to officials.

Officials for the pharmaceutical industry, which is financially backing a large part of the effort, said that the research could help companies create new drugs more quickly as well as help identify potential side effects earlier. The Foundation for the National Institutes of Health will manage the program, which has nearly $9 million in funding for administrative costs and 2 initial projects targeting lung cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The research findings will be publicly available and shared between researchers and companies, said officials.

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