AstraZeneca Believes Open Innovation Will Uncover Novel Anticancer Combinations

AstraZeneca hopes to harness the open source platform of the DREAM challenge, releasing preclinical data to discover synergistic cancer drug combinations.

An open science collaboration among academic research institutes, the public sector, and private companies has been in the works since 2006 and now the drug manufacturer AstraZeneca has decided to join the bandwagon. AstraZeneca hopes to harness the open source platform of the DREAM challenge, releasing preclinical data on drugs developed by the company, to discover synergistic cancer drug combinations.

Developed by IBM researcher Gustavo Stolovitzky, PhD, and Columbia University researcher Andrea Califano, PhD, the program has blossomed with multiple cross-collaborative projects across 50 different institutions. About 2 years back, in February 2013, DREAM joined hands with Sage Bionetworks, a non-profit research organization that believes in open sharing of complex biological data, especially big data, to accelerate discovery. DREAM Challenges have touched a variety of healthcare issues, from prostate cancer to odor detection to protein interaction networks.

AstraZeneca now plans to share data on approximately 11,500 anticancer drug combinations that the company has tested—combinations that could hypothetically overcome innate and acquired tumor drug resistance. This would be cell viability data on 118 drugs in 85 cancer cell lines (mainly colon, prostate, lung, and breast). The partnership also includes patient genomic data, primarily gene expression, mutations (whole exome), copy-number alterations, and methylation data, shared by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. The objective, according to the project overview, is to explore fundamental traits that underlie effective combination treatments and synergistic drug behavior using baseline genomic data that has been gathered pretreatment.

Winning predictions will be submitted for publication in the journal Nature Biotechnology.