AstraZeneca embraces crowdsourcing in a mix-and-match cancer R&D contest

AstraZeneca's headquarters in London--Courtesy of AstraZeneca

Hoping to spotlight some promising new combination cancer treatments, AstraZeneca ($AZN) is opening up its data vault to researchers around the globe in an effort to crowdsource new avenues for research.

AstraZeneca is releasing preclinical test results on roughly 11,500 potential combinations of drugs pitted against certain tumor types, matching them with cancer genomic data courtesy of the Sanger Institute and inviting research teams to dive in in search of winning cocktails.

Through Sage Bionetworks' DREAM Challenge program, scientists can sign up, download the data and get to work on ferreting out combinations, and the contest's organizers plan to submit the best ideas for publication in Nature Biotechnology, according to Reuters.

AstraZeneca's embrace of crowdsourcing in precompetitive research follows a trend of open-access R&D among some of the world's largest drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). This week, Boehringer Ingelheim partnered with Germany's BioMed X Innovation Center on a crowdsourced effort to find new approaches to treating COPD.

The DREAM program, founded in 2006, unites a community of researchers from around the world in an effort to collaboratively explore issues in translational medicine. Sage, a nonprofit, provides much of DREAM's infrastructure. Outside of AstraZeneca and Sanger's efforts, other challenges are focused on ALS and cancer diagnostics.

- get more on the challenge
- read Reuters' story