Pharma company AstraZeneca has publicly released preclinical data from more than 50 of its medicines in order to find new drug combinations for cancer treatments. The data AstraZeneca released will be used in a competition it created in partnership with the DREAM Challenge, a non-profit, collaborative community that runs crowdsourcing efforts for biology.
People who participate in the challenge will develop computer models that identify the properties of drugs that make them powerful when combined. Anyone who has the training or expertise to work with these models is invited to participate. The winners of AstraZeneca's challenge will be able to submit their prediction for publication in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Other organizations that partnered with AstraZeneca for the challenge, which is called AstraZeneca-Sanger Drug Combination Prediction DREAM Challenge, include the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the European Bioinformatic Institute, and Sage Bionetworks.
“AstraZeneca has a deep and broad oncology development program assessing combinations of immunotherapies and small molecules to address the significant unmet need across a wide range of cancers," Susan Galbraith, head of the Oncology Innovative Medicines Unit at AstraZeneca, said in a statement. "This open innovation research initiative complements our own efforts brilliantly and we are delighted that the findings could be published for the benefit of the global scientific community.”
Combining cancer therapies can often be more effective than monotherapy, AstraZeneca explained, and this increases the possibility that a patient will overcome drug resistance.
AstraZeneca has released approximately 10,000 tested combinations that measure whether a drug can destroy cancer cell lines from different tumors, like colon, lung, and breast cancer tumors. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is making genomic data available to DREAM Challenge participants for all of these cell lines as well.
This isn't the first time AstraZeneca has invested in crowdsourcing for its medicines. In April, Boston-based patient network PatientsLikeMe announced a five-year research collaboration deal with AstraZeneca. As part of the deal, AstraZeneca will have full access to PatientsLikeMe’s global network, and the company will use the data to shape future medicine development and work to improve outcomes in different therapeutic areas, with an initial focus on respiratory disease, lupus, diabetes and oncology.