Pfizer joins drug target identification consortium

Published: 15-Feb-2022

Open Targets works pre-competitively, aiming to bridge the gap between pharma companies and not-for-profit research bodies

Pfizer has joined Open Targets, a consortium focused on drug target identification, prioritisation, and validation. The public-private partnership uses human genetics and genomics data with the aim of improving the success rate of medicine development.

The company will bring expertise in oncology, immunology, and metabolic disorders, complementing the contributions of the consortium’s five current partners: EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the Wellcome Sanger Institute, GSK, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Sanofi.

The organisation was founded in 2014 by EMBL-EBI, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and GSK with the aim of using genome sequencing and genetics studies information to improve the identification and prioritisation of drug targets. Clinical trial success rates are notoriously low, but that figure is improved for therapies backed by genetic data, the consortium says.

The consortium works pre-competitively to bridge the gap between pharmaceutical companies and not-for-profit research institutes, with partners applying combined knowledge and expertise to both informatics and experimental research projects. Genomic experiments and computational techniques developed at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI are employed alongside pharmaceutical R&D approaches to identify causal links between targets, pathways, and diseases.

“Pfizer joining Open Targets as our next partner is a real external vote of confidence in the work we are doing,” said Ian Dunham, director of Open Targets. “Pfizer’s emphasis on the use of human genetics and genomics in drug discovery is a perfect fit for the partnership. They will immediately benefit from access to all our published and as yet unpublished data that Open Targets members have a first right to review. I look forward to working together.”

“We believe that the OpenTargets public-private partnership model is well suited to generate insightful data for drug discovery programs, propel scientific research forward, and provide a resource for many impactful discoveries in the future,” said Michael Vincent, SVP, Chief Scientific Officer, Inflammation and Immunology Research Unit at Pfizer. “The combination of foundational experiments in functional genomics paired with a cutting-edge computational genetics and target data infrastructure is attractive and we look forward to working closely with our partners in Open Targets.”

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