12:00 AM
Oct 13, 2011
 |  BC Innovations  |  Strategy

Lilly's opening moves

When Eli Lilly and Co. launched its Phenotypic Drug Discovery Initiative in 2009, its goal was to apply a crowdsourcing approach to finding new small molecules from external investigators that fit the company's core disease focus areas. Based on the positive results of the program, which focuses on phenotypic assays, the pharma has added six assays against defined targets as well as a tuberculosis assay.

The renamed Open Innovation Drug Discovery platform is one of two forays the pharma is making into the open innovation space. Lilly has also joined a public-private partnership (PPP) to identify IP-free molecules against epigenetic targets. The PPP is being led by the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC).

"Open Innovation is quite a broad concept and can include a variety of paths or channels for innovation to occur other than the classic 'do-it-yourself' model," according to Alpheus Bingham, founder of InnoCentive Inc., a company spun out of Lilly that issues open challenges to promote R&D. InnoCentive partners with a number of companies, including Nature Publishing Group, co-publisher of SciBX, to help promote the challenges. Bingham was previously VP of sourcing innovation and R&D strategy at Lilly.

"We had a broader vision early on, and PD2 [Phenotypic Drug Discovery] was the first part to be implemented," noted Alan Palkowitz, VP of discovery chemistry research and technologies at Lilly.

"The potential for PD2 to uncover and yield interesting findings is what's driving us to expand," added Palkowitz. "In terms of ROI, the assays are investments we've already made to support internal programs-as we add external molecules, it's only a very small increase in cost."

"It is natural to extend to the target-based approaches because it complements the breadth of our small molecule discovery strategy, which focuses on both phenotypic and target-based paradigms," Palkowitz noted, adding that the expansion also features a third component that involves screening for molecules with potential efficacy...

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