Eli Lilly launches new approach to Open Innovation

24 Jun 2009 | News
The US pharma company Eli Lilly has launched a new model of open innovation devised to get over the drug industry’s productivity problems.

The US pharma company Eli Lilly wants researchers worldwide to submit compounds for screening in return for receiving a report on aspects of molecular activity, in a new model of open innovation devised to get over the drug industry’s productivity problems.

The aim is to identify molecules that are active in models of disease that can then form the basis of a collaboration.

Over the past ten years Lilly has developed a range of assays related to diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, diabetes and cancer. These are being used to screen internal compound collections. Now the company wants universities, research institutes and biotechs to submit compounds, which it will screen free of charge.

All data and intellectual property will be retained by the submitting institute, but Lilly will have the right to negotiate access to the molecules or form a partnership to advance any promising discoveries.

Alan Palkowitz, vice president Discovery Chemistry Research and Technology said, “The goal is not to promote a random high volume of submission of compounds; rather to stimulate the testing of compounds that represent novel structural diversity.”

Rather than screening against one specific target, Lilly assays are phenotypic. This means that they attempt to encompass the complex interactions and biochemical cascades that are involved in the initiation and progress of disease. In effect, this provides the opportunity to screen multiple targets simultaneously.

The process will begin with registration through a third-party website and the signing of a standardised Material Transfer Agreement (MTA). The design and wording of the MTA was developed with the US Association of University Technology Managers. This eliminates the need to establish individual agreements with each investigator/institute.

Once registered, investigators will be guided through the process for submission of compounds via the website. Upon receipt of the compounds, Lilly will test for activity in five phenotypic assay modules. Any compound demonstrating confirmed activity in the initial phenotypic assay will then be tested in secondary assays.

After sample evaluation, the investigator will receive a report with a complete biological profile of the compounds. For compounds demonstrating interesting assay profiles, Lilly has set a timeline, defined by the MTA, to exclusively negotiate with the investigator for enhanced compound access.

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