The world’s largest drugmakers have joined forces to share data they have collected from trials involving Alzheimer’s disease patients in a bid to speed up new treatments for brain diseases.

A new database of more than 4,000 Alzheimer’s patients who have participated in 11 industry-sponsored clinical trials has been gathered together under the umbrella of the Coalition Against Major Diseases. CAMD members include six patient groups, 15 drugmakers and advisors from the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.

This is the first database to be openly shared by pharmaceutical companies and made available to qualified researchers around the world, helping them to “more accurately predict the true course of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases”. This will in turn enable the design of more efficient clinical trials, CAMD said.

FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein praised “this innovative and unprecedented public-private partnership”, saying that the agency is “strongly committed to CAMD and other regulatory science collaborations that can speed safe and effective treatments to the public”. Former FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan added that “too many treatments fail in the last stages of research, wasting millions of dollars and years of research time” and “to get to faster, more efficient development of safe and effective treatments, we must have a better understanding of diseases at the molecular level”.

All the major players in the industry, bar Merck & Co, are taking part and AstraZeneca executive Frank Casty and co-director of CAMD, said “we are proud to be a member of this coalition”. He said that “a healthier world must come from collaboration, in making better, deeper connections with all our stakeholders, and sharing skills and ideas”.

The CAMD project is the latest in an ever-increasing number of joint research initiatives by drugmakers who are desperate to cut R&D costs and reduce development times.