Biogen allies with GSK in precompetitive computational biology collaboration

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has gained an ally in its push to accelerate drug discovery by collaborating on the application of computational biology to target validation. The ally, Biogen ($BIIB), is the first company to join the initiative since GSK set it up in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in 2014. 

In joining the project, which is called the Centre for Therapeutic Target Validation (CTTV), Biogen has committed to collaborating on the generation of experimental data that supports the validation of therapeutic targets. CTTV is built upon a belief that the failure to nail this key early step is the reason why many drugs fall short of safety or efficacy expectations when tested in the clinic. By applying computational biology and genetic research to target validation--and sharing the results of these efforts publicly--CTTV thinks it can improve the rate of success in clinical trials.  

Philip Ma, vice president of digital health technology and data sciences at Biogen, has bought into the concept that underlies CTTV. "The importance of accessing and managing searchable, structured data is critical to sharing knowledge on target validation," Ma said in a statement. "We look forward to combining our expertise in data sciences with the leading capabilities of GSK, the Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI." In pooling the expertise of the organizations, which include leaders in bioinformatics and genetic research, CTTV believes it has access to skills that can advance knowledge of biology.

The early fruits of the attempts to deliver on this promise are already available. Late last year, CTTV launched its Target Validation Platform, a web-based system that contains information on targets assessed by the collaborators. With 9,000 visits since the platform went live in December, CTTV is encouraged that there is an appetite for the sort of information it is sharing.

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