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Online Discovery

Lilly launches website to find new drug candidates

by Ann M. Thayer
June 22, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 25

Credit: Eli Lilly & Co.
Lilly's Palkowitz (standing) helps launch the Web-based PD2 initiative.
Credit: Eli Lilly & Co.
Lilly's Palkowitz (standing) helps launch the Web-based PD2 initiative.

If you have a novel molecule, Eli Lilly & Co. would like to take a look at it. The pharmaceutical company has opened a Web portal through which it's offering to assess the therapeutic potential of new compounds.

Lilly sees its Phenotypic Drug Discovery Initiative, or PD2 , as a way to give scientists in academia and biotech labs access to its discovery and development process. For Lilly, the program is an efficient way to tap into a broad base of new chemistry and evaluate compounds that otherwise might never get tested.

"We are trying to harvest innovation from sources that we might not even know exist by bringing what we can to the equation in terms of high-quality assays and discovery expertise," says Alan D. Palkowitz, Lilly vice president for discovery chemistry research and technologies.

Through the PD2 portal, researchers can confidentially submit structures that will be screened by Lilly algorithms for their druglike properties and structural novelty. If one looks interesting, Lilly will ask for a physical sample, still confidential, that it will test at no charge against assays for Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

Intellectual property rights remain with the submitting researcher or institution, which must register and sign an agreement to participate. In return for sharing assay data and a biological profile, Lilly has first rights to negotiate an agreement for compounds it would like to explore further. If no deal is struck, the researcher gets to keep and use the data in publications and grant proposals.

The company worked with the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) to structure the program. "We were very careful about preserving the right to publish and academic freedom," AUTM President Arundeep S. Pradhan says. The collaborative initiative will also allow small institutions with limited technology transfer resources to participate, he says.

Lilly is also sharing information on the PD2 site about the diseases, assays, and discovery process to help catalyze future discoveries. "The intent was not only to see if there was something that was commercially viable, but really and truly to try to give the research faculty data and information with respect to their compounds that can be used without any encumbrance," Pradhan says.

According to Lilly, 65 universities have already expressed interest in signing on, and affiliations will soon be listed on the site.



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