European Lead Factory

A collaborative approach to finding high quality leads for new drug discovery programs

The European Lead Factory was established in 2013 to find valuable lead structures that were previously inaccessible – and which might eventually generate novel treatment options for patients. It is a pan-European drug discovery project, and a flagship open innovation resource for academia, public organizations, large pharma companies and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

icon_pills 185

new drug discovery projects

icon_Hands 555,000

unique chemical compounds in the ELF library

About the European Lead Factory

Within the framework of the European Lead Factory, a Joint European Compound Library (JECL) has been created from two unique sources. First, over 300,000 compounds have been selected from previously inaccessible private company (EFPIA) collections. Second, a further 200,000 innovative compounds have been synthesized from crowd sourcing ideas by European Lead Factory chemistry partners. The initiative also offers ultra-high throughput (uHTS) screening of novel drug targets against the JECL at the European Screening Centre (ESC).

The new ESCulab project (European Screening Centre; Unique Library for Attractive Biology), supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), will use the well-established European Lead Factory brand in order to continue its success story of speeding up drug discovery.

Visit the European Lead Factory website for more information. 

Sustaining consortium success as a trusted partner

The project reaches out to academics and SMEs throughout Europe. Lygature helped to drive development from the beginning, establishing and managing an international consortium of 20 (previously 30) partners. From January 2016, a broad range of resources and support are provided under the Lygature brand, including: 

  • Scientific management and leadership. Lygature is responsible for scientific management at the Program Office, where drug discovery proposals are being recruited and where the review and selection processes are coordinated. In addition, Lygature supports the Ethics Advisory Board and is coordinator of the IMI ESCulab grant;
  • Trusted partner. As an independent enabler with no conflicting interests, Lygature guides public and private drug discovery;
  • Sustainability. Lygature coordinates sustainability discussions and planning for the European Screening Centre and the collaborative drug discovery concept;
  • Communications. Other contributions include brand building of EU Lead Factory; communicating and disseminating (scientific) articles, policies and guidelines; and use of our intranet platform for secured document sharing.

The European Lead Factory is an important example of the Lygature mission to bring academia, industry and society together in collaborative projects that allow participants to benefit from shared resources. It has required extensive expertise in both management and science, and has helped to build many long-term partnerships which Lygature continues to support.

Top image: Screening Robot at the European Screening Centre (courtesy of the Pivot Park Screening Centre)

Lygature together with

Project updates

  • stack of boxes in a lab

    Our Compound Collection shipped to participating screening centres all over Europe

    The European Lead Factory (ELF) project has some impressive numbers to share! Over the past months, ELF Partner BioAscent has shipped 3,256 screening plates from the updated Compound Collection to the nine screening sites that are part of ELF. 

    A screening plate is 13 cm long, meaning that so far, we have shipped about 423 m of plates - four times the length of a soccer field. 

    Read more.

  • New screening technology available at the European Lead Factory

    Pivot Park Screening Centre (PPSC) is excited to announce the availability of a novel technology for screening in European Lead Factory.

    Adding to our already broad portfolio of read-out technologies, we now installed a Bruker Rapiflex for high throughput mass-spectrometry screening. The MALDI PharmaPulse label-free technology will improve speed and quality of our European Lead Factory programs by reducing the number of false positives or false negatives. This technology is particularly suitable for biochemical programs. Program owners that already have developed a mass-spec assay are now welcome to submit their program to the European Lead Factory.

  • The European Lead Factory, Europe’s largest collaborative drug discovery platform, continues its success story

    The European Lead Factory secured a total project budget of EUR 36.5 million under the second framework of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI). 20 partners in 7 countries will push forward the transformation of potential drug targets to new medicines in the new project ESCulab (European Screening Centre: unique library for attractive biology) under the European Lead Factory brand.

    Over the next five years, the European Lead Factory will initiate 185 new drug discovery projects by screening medically relevant drug targets from European researchers, small and medium-sized enterprises and pharmaceutical industry against the ELF library of 550,000 unique chemical compounds.

    The successful concept of the European Lead Factory has already encouraged additional private partners to join. The ESCulab Project welcomes the two pharmaceutical companies Servier and Grünenthal as well as the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the leading product development partnership in the field of antimalarial drug research and development.

    Lygature, involved as of from the early start of the European Lead Factory is proud to see that the concept of collaborative drug discovery has been so successful that it can continue its work. Project Coordinator Jon de Vlieger: “the European Lead Factory six years ago with the idea to combine the best of academia with the best of industry. We have proven that this is a very successful model for early drug discovery. With new partners and new funding we can continue to find leads for novel drugs based on new biological insights. Part of our mission now is to establish a sustainable business model for the European Lead Factory.”

    Read the full press release here