MEDICAL RESEARCH

AstraZeneca taps crowd sourcing to find cancer drug cocktails

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014.  REUTERS/Phil Noble

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble  (Copyright Reuters 2015)

Drugmaker AstraZeneca is harnessing the wisdom of crowds to help mix tomorrow's cancer drug cocktails.

The company said on Tuesday its decision to release preclinical data from more than 50 of its medicines was unprecedented in scale and would help accelerate the hunt for synergistic tumor-fighting drug combinations.

The crowd sourcing initiative is being run as part of the DREAM Challenge, an open innovation non-profit biology project in which scientists pool ideas and crunch data.

AstraZeneca's decision to make a large data set available to outside researchers is a further example of the drugs industry exploring ways to share research at an early pre-competitive stage.

The data includes around 10,000 tested combinations measuring the ability of drugs to destroy cancer cell lines from different tumor types and it will be matched with genomic information from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

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Scientists with winning predictions for the best new cancer drug combinations will have their ideas submitted for publication in the journal Nature Biotechnology.