How to get involved

When considering getting involved in drug repurposing research, there are three main questions a patient group should ask:

1.     What is needed from a new repurposed treatment for your condition? This might include the benefits your patient population would like to receive from a treatment, the symptoms it should target and the side effects/risk that patients are willing to tolerate. You should also consider whether the perception of the condition and obstacles faced vary in different patient cohorts.

2.     What is your current position, and what avenues does this open up for research? Consider how many patients your organisation is in direct contact with, as well as what kind of contact you have with researchers and clinicians in the field. It is also worth considering whether a patient registry has been set up for the condition in question and whether there is accessible data about your disease online. Think about what financing routes are currently available to your organisation.

3.     What is the current status of treatment development? Assess the existing treatment options for the condition, any opportunities for treatment development, and whether a current therapy can be improved. In particular, patient groups should determine whether there are already existing repurposing candidates or pharmaceutical companies that are interested in your condition.

Answering these questions may help as you look to determine how you can get involved in repurposing research. This can be through a number of avenues, from fundraising to support projects, to collaborating with repurposing research partners.

Figure showing the steps to organising a drug repurposing project in outlined boxes spaced evenly along a large arrow. From left to right the boxes read ‘Getting started’, ‘Selecting a drug repurposing candidate’ and ‘Testing in clinical trials’. At the bottom of each box is an icon representing the stage of the drug repurposing project. These are a head with a brain inside for ‘Getting started’, a magnifying glass over three pills for ‘Selecting a drug repurposing candidate’ and a doctor with a patient sat on an examination table for ‘Clinical trial testing.

Choosing a repurposing partner

If you are looking to collaborate with bioinformatics, biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies on a drug repurposing project, it is important to choose a partner that complements the expertise your patient group has. Consider whether you need a partner with drug repurposing expertise, access to innovative technologies, expert disease knowledge or other resources for conducting research. You may also need a partner with an expansive network, that knows the location of study centres and has contacts within the field. Finally, your research partner’s ethical and cultural beliefs should align with your own to ensure successful collaboration.