Open-access R&D for Drug Industry

Reuters | | September 29, 2011

LONDON: Drug companies are learning how to share. In a bid to save both time and money, some of the industry’s biggest names are experimenting with new ways to pool early-stage research, effectively taking a leaf out of the “open-source” manual that gave the world Linux software.

If it takes off, the approach could break the mould of current drug research and speed the development of tomorrow’s life-saving medicines for diseases from cancer to autism.
At the University of Oxford on Wednesday, two more companies – Pfizer and Eli Lilly – signed up for the first phase of the concept by joining existing backers GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis in an unusual public-private research partnership.

As supporters of the international Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), the rivals give cash and scientific resources for work into the three-dimensional structure of proteins – important for drug discovery – even though all the findings are made available to scientists worldwide without restriction...