Although widely disputed, I first came across the quotation at Eli Lilly “None of us is as smart as all of us” as attributed to the American baseball player, Satchel Paige. I must admit that, in the main, I’m not a great fan of sporting motivational quotations applied to business, especially the pharmaceutical industry, but it has given us some gems, such as “It’s a funny old game” (James Greaves), “Baseball has the great advantage over cricket of being sooner ended” (George Bernard Shaw) and the classics “You can observe a lot by just watching” and, who could forget, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical”? (Both from Yogi Berra). Although motivational quotes can be of dubious use, the spirit behind “None of us is as smart as all of us” strikes a chord with many. The days when Pharmaceutical Companies ploughed their own furrow are becoming a fading memory and drug discovery is becoming, very much, an enterprise that values the benefits that collaboration and partnership can bring. The three feature articles in this month’s newsletter highlight the benefits and issues that can accompany alliances and collaborations.
The first article is by John Qi Dong and Killian J. McCarthy from the University of Groningen and is entitled: “When more isn’t merrier: pharmaceutical alliance networks and breakthrough innovation”. The authors describe how they have developed a model of the US pharmaceutical industry strategic alliances (particularly with universities) and how they have impacted breakthrough innovation. The authors highlight that companies tend to be involved in multiple, simultaneous alliances. Their model allows the analysis of strengths and benefits of such alliances, but they also highlight some caveats of adopting, as they put it, “…a more the merrier approach to strategic alliance making”.
Following on from this, the paper by Mark Tomilo, Heather Ascani, Barbara Mirel, Maria Chiara Magnone, Carol Moreno Quinn, Anil Karihaloo, Kevin Duffin, Uptal D. Patel and Matthias Kretzler of various University and Industry departments, entitled “‘Renal Pre-Competitive Consortium (RPC2): discovering therapeutic targets together” There is a significant unmet medical need for the treatment of kidney disease. As a strategy better to develop drug solutions for patients, the authors (amongst others) set up and developed an academic-industry consortium to share information, experience, resource and knowledge to accelerate developments in treatment. The article discusses the philosophy underpinning the consortium, how it has been developed and results derived from it.
The final article by Christopher J. Helal, Alessandra Bartolozzi, Steven D. Goble, Neelakanda S. Mani, Angel Guzman-Perez, Ajay K. Ohri, Zhi-Cai Shi and Chakrapani Subramanyam entitled: “Increased building block access through collaboration”. Gives a more practical example of how real value can be derived from pre-competitive collaborative efforts. In this case it shows how collaboration can give access to more diverse and better building blocks to enhance diversity in medicinal chemistry efforts.
Steve Carney was born in Liverpool, England and studied Biochemistry at Liverpool University, obtaining a BSc.(Hons) and then read for a PhD on the Biochemistry and Pathology of Connective Tissue Diseases in Manchester University, in the Departments of Medical Biochemistry and Histopathology. On completion of his PhD he moved to the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, London, where he worked with Professor Helen Muir FRS and Professor Tim Hardingham, on the biochemistry of experimental Osteoarthritis. He joined Eli Lilly and Co. and held a number of positions in Biology R&D, initially in the Connective Tissue Department, but latterly in the Neuroscience Department. He left Lilly to take up his present position as Managing Editor, Drug Discovery Today, at Elsevier. Currently, he also holds an honorary lectureship in Drug Discovery at the University of Surrey, UK. He has authored over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, written several book chapters and has held a number of patents. On the media front, Dr. Carney has been busy on some hush-hush projects that will be reported on later in the year.