J&J neuroscience chief advocates "open" R&D program

One of the most hotly debated issues in R&D circles revolves around the big research silos Big Pharma and quite a few biotechs have built around their IP. Desiring to keep a solid grasp on their product rights, companies have understandably constructed some solid patent walls to keep their property safe from predators. And researchers are known for keeping information on new programs close to the vest. But that process has also inhibited the cross fertilization of ideas, and some pioneers have been calling for a new approach to R&D that takes down some of those walls so that better progress can be made on new drugs.

Husseini Manji, J&J's ($JNJ) worldwide chief of neuroscience research, is voting for a much more open platform for his field. With big companies like GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) either cutting back or eliminating the entire field from their pipelines, now more than ever every researcher--whether they're in the private sector, government or academia--needs to work together in order to address one of society's greatest unmet medical needs.

"Neuropsychiatric diseases are the most burdensome to society and among the most complex illnesses," Manji said in an interview with Dow Jones Newswires. "So business as usual in this disease area isn't going to work." So Mani is promoting a program called "One Mind for Research," which is trying to pool early-stage assets as well as a mountain of data to help propel programs through the clinic.

"Some of it would be completely open so that the data generated is available to everyone to benefit from," he adds. "This would pertain to what we call pre-competitive research. After that, the race would be on for companies to develop their own products."

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