24 Sep 2015   |   News

AstraZeneca embraces crowdsourcing in cancer R&D

UK pharma company jumps on the open access R&D bandwagon, offering access to data on over 50 of its drugs, with the aim of inspiring new combination therapies for cancer

AstraZeneca is releasing a large data set with information on over 50 of its medicines, in the hope of crowdsourcing new combination cancer treatments.

The pharma giant has released approximately 10,000 tested combinations that measure whether a drug can destroy cancer cell lines from different tumours, including colon, lung, and breast cancer.

The initiative is being run as part of the DREAM Challenge, an established crowdsourcing effort founded in 2006, in which scientists pool efforts to explore issues in translational medicine.

People who participate in the challenge will develop computer models that identify the properties of drugs that make them powerful when combined.

Any scientist can sign up and download the AstraZeneca data. Winning predictions for the best combinations of cancer drugs will be submitted for publication in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Other partners in the contest include the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and Sage Bionetworks.

The open-access R&D trend can be seen among some of the world's largest pharma companies including Sanofi, which for years has awarded $100,000 to winning groups that find novel uses of diabetes data to create apps and other digital tools.

Earlier this week Boehringer Ingelheim said it will partner with Germany's BioMed X Innovation Centre on a crowdsourced effort to find new approaches to treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

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