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    October 12, 2011


    “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” – John Lennon, Imagine

    Scientists are now starting to collaborate to work together to fight diseases in a field that has traditionally been done in isolation, a tipping point was felt this week in Kansas City.  Standards and funded infrastructure for collaborative science complement CDD’s collaborative capabilities (and vice versa).  These once futuristic ideals are now coming of age.  In complementary ways, these advances support smarter ways for scientists throughout the drug discovery ecosystem (commercial, academic, government, foundations, and CROs) to collaborate.   We were pleased to attend two events this week on the emerging standards of the new aDREAM (Assay Guidance Manual see the useful TOC here) and the inaugural Conference of the International Chemical Biology Society (ICSBS) in back-to-back meetings at the Kaufman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City.  On the standards side, the Bioassay Ontology from long-time CDD adviser Dr. Stephan Schurer can allow for “apples to apples” comparisons critical for reproducibility that has been a recent pain point for collaborations given the inherent complexity of small molecule biological screens.

    Industry and academia, now more than ever, need to collaborate seamlessly, so these are extremely timely developments.  Our modest contribution is developing better technologies to securely integrate private, collaborative and public data, with drug discovery tools to make the research more efficient.

    At aDREAM Dr. Sittampalam directed a group of experts collaboratively writing an ebook on best practices covering these high level topics:

    A. Cell-based Assay group (L. Minor, PhD)
    B. Ion Channel Group (O. McManus, PhD)
    C. Enzyme assay group (A. Napper, PhD)
    D. High Content Imaging Group (TC Chung, PhD)
    E. Protein-Protein Interaction Group (M. Arkin, PhD)
    F. Bioassay Ontology Group (S. Schurer, PhD)
    G. Design of Experiments (D. Auld, PhD/P. Iversen, PhD)

    At the ICSB conference Rathnam Chaguturu (U. Kansas) and Christopher Austin (NIH) welcomed an international potpourri of collaborative drug discovery initiatives around the world including:  TRND-NCATS, EU-OPENSCREEN in Europe, as well as leading chemical biology collaborative initiatives in Australia, China,  Japan, and New Zeeland.

    As these public and collaborative initiatives become mainstream, CDD will continue to support the full continuum of use cases.  Today 95% of research is done in private-only CDD Vaults (one organization) or collaborative Projects in CDD Vaults (two or more organizations selectively sharing some data while keeping other data private), as well as those who wish to share data in CDD Public (free).   With projects for private-to-private collaboration and temporally controlled data partitioning down to an individual batch of a molecule or single readout data, researchers can collaborate with greater flexibility and refined control of their IP and data.  Scientists can securely work on multiple projects and collaborations within more natural workflows.

    CDD’s technical advances will make distinctions between competitive, precompetitive, and non-competitive drug discovery irrelevant.  In the near future, we will better reconcile the complementary commercial and altruistic motivations for drug discovery.

    Today we call it “aDream for the International Chemical Biological Society”.  Tomorrow, with the right attitudes and technologies, we will make the dream…the new status quo.


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