AstraZeneca opens up compound library to select academics

Critics of siloed Big Pharma R&D often point to the untapped potential of leading firms' compound libraries as evidence of the need for greater openness. Giving a wider pool of researchers with IT and high-throughput screening skills, access to the libraries could uncover new drugs, an idea AstraZeneca  ($AZN) is putting to the test by sharing compounds with certain researchers.

John Hopkins' Dr. Barbara Slusher

The agreement falls short of completely opening up AstraZeneca's compound library, but still gives some researchers from outside the Big Pharma's walls a chance to mine the resource. Members of the the Academic Drug Discovery Consortium (ADDC)--a group of 100 university-led centers--can request access to up to 250,000 compounds from AstraZeneca's screening library. And if the sharing results in a program advancing to lead identification, AstraZeneca will have first dibs on the drug.

As such, AstraZeneca externalizes some discovery effort in return for giving selected academics a new resource to tap. "Access to AstraZeneca's compound library will provide valuable hit compounds to jumpstart the drug discovery efforts of able, equipped academic researchers," Dr. Barbara Slusher, professor at Johns Hopkins and president of the ADDC, said in a statement. Only research institutions that fit certain criteria--such as having medicinal chemistry capabilities--can access the library.

AstraZeneca expects to start 5 projects a year, with each project running for three years. Successful applicants will receive screen plates containing up to 250,000 compounds from AstraZeneca's library. Once the academic center has generated screening data, AstraZeneca will identify high-potential clusters and share the structures of up to 50 promising compounds.

- read the release
- and proposal page