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Roche and AstraZeneca to share early trial data

Unique big pharma collaboration aims to increase their R&D efficiency

Roche AstraZeneca logos

The pharma companies Roche and AstraZeneca (AZ) are coming together to increase the efficiency of their R&D efforts through an agreement to share early-stage trial data.

Roche and AZ will contribute data on early-stage drug design to third-partner MedChemica, a UK-based firm which specialises in data mining to speed up the drug development process.

The motivation for this deal, which goes against the pharma industry's traditionally conservative stance on commercially confidential information, is financial, according to Luca Santarelli, head of neuroscience and small-molecule research at Roche.

"Over the years the cost of drug discovery and development has risen significantly," he told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), blaming tougher regulatory requirements.

He added: “We saw in this collaboration the opportunity of becoming more efficient by sharing knowledge."

Another reason for the deal is likely to be AZ CEO Pascal Soriot's close relationship with Roche, where he served as chief operating officer up until October last year.

Since then, AZ has embarked on a rigorous overhaul of its research process to boost its pipeline, and this latest deal is the latest in a long line of agreements to support the development of future drugs.

In practice, both AZ and Roche will give MedChemica specific details about compounds they have previously developed, as well as the results of tests conducted on these investigational drugs.

There won't be complete openness about the data, however, with AZ and Roche only set to share the chemical changes made to the compounds, and the results these changes produced in tests, including the reaction the compounds produced in human cells.

Nevertheless, the agreement is significant loosening of the ties companies usually place around their intellectual property, and in a statement to PMLiVE AZ said the consortium would be open to other large companies wanting to access information and add their own.

"More data added to this system will raise the quality and specificity of drug design rules," it added. 

Alexander Dossetter, managing director at MedChemica, also voiced his desire for the collaboraiton to grow.

He said: "We congratulate both companies for taking the courageous first step of sharing medicinal chemistry knowledge.

"We aim to expand this kind of collaboration and eventually go beyond facilitating chemical building blocks into chemical lead hunting and optimisation. The goal is that resources will be better utilised and patients better served.”

26th June 2013

From: Research

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