10/24/12

Big pharma, crowdsourcing and cheminformatics


Open innovation and crowdsourcing are fast growing areas. It is believed that the crowdsourcing and open innovation can help to jump over the research gap in drug design and discovery and other areas of innovations. Diversity of solutions provided by crowdsourcing will be always higher, one scientist or research group physically can't give as much solutions as scientific society can. There are some crowdsourcing and open innovation attempts made by academic science, but they do not deal with real world pharmaceutical innovation. This short review is about crowdsourcing as a way of earning money.

Up to now, there are several crowdsourcing platforms where pharma/biotech companies ask for solution using open innovation approach and where chemoinformatician or let's say life science data miner can benefit in a pecuniary way:
  • Innocentive - several virtual screening projects where already finished - Cytochrome BC1Hyper-Phosphorylated Tau Protein with rather competitive prizes ($10-15k). I participated in one of them: most of the time was spent for report writing, other time for data preparation, building the models and around 3 weeks of computational time.
  • Kaggle - the Merck challenge on prediction of biological activity and also HTS visualization - interesting QSAR/cheminformatics task; Boehringer Ingelheim - also for biological activity prediction.
  • NineSights - most of the drug design and discovery projects are related to search of seed compounds, but some modeling challenges were appeared. Sorry, can't find them now.
  • OneBillionMinds - share the same idea of crowdsourcing but mostly for non-profit, no tracks of science were found.
For the most of the mentioned projects there are up to 300 teams contributed their solutions. And it will be very interesting to compare them. Kaggle already have this in mind, but it will be more interesting to receive results for virtual screening projects at Innocentive. Of course not all of virtual screening results can be compared in real HTS, but intersection of different methods are always valuable.

I think there is a bright future for crowdsourcing. So many solution die on a shelf of researcher, but crowdsourcing can help to push innovation both for research and pharma company.

Some links:
Big pharma sees promise in incubators, crowdsourcing by Union-Tribune

PS: If you know any other open innovation/crowdsourcing platforms, please, drop a line, it will be very interesting for me.

Update:
Ideaconnection - R&D-oriented crowdsourcing platform, worth registering.

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