Pre-competitive groups don't compete; Amgen and Lundbeck join group behind the HELM platform

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Pre-competitive collaboration groups don't compete says Pistoia Alliance
Pre-competitive collaboration groups don't compete says Pistoia Alliance
Competition is not a problem in the pre-competitive collaboration space according to the Pistoia Alliance, a non-profit R&D innovation focused group that has signed up Amgen and Lundbeck as its latest members.

Last week, the Pistoia Alliance announced that the drugmakers had become members along with tech giant Hewlett-Packard and several other organisations from industry, the services sector and academia.

The Alliance’s told us its remit is to “use pre-competitive collaboration to address issues around aggregating, accessing, and sharing data that are essential to innovation, but provide little competitive advantage​.”

Pre-competitive partnering is a popular idea.

Transcelerate has recently been promoting teamwork, telling attendees at a recent conference​ “It’s not that suddenly that everybody has become nice people, it’s that the pain [of not collaborating] is no longer bearable.”

The Pistoia Alliance has a similar point of view; however, a spokesman for the organisation told that its approach is markedly different.

While there are organisations such as Transcelerate, we feel that we are the only one with coverage across the life sciences industry as a whole.”

He added that: “The Pistoia Alliance works on a range of projects all of which are intended to lower the barriers to innovation across the life sciences industry​” citing the Hierarchical Editing Language for Macromolecules (HELM) as an example.

To the HELM

HELM or Hierarchical Editing Language for Macromolecules enables the representation of a wide range of biomolecules whose size and complexity render existing small-molecule and sequence-based informatics methodologies impractical or unusable​.”

HELM was developed by Pfizer as an in-house tool before the Pistoia Alliance took over its development and secured funding and support from its members to develop and roll out HELM globally in 2013.

According to the organisation the technology is used by B-MS, GSK, Lundbeck, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and Roche with, according to the spokesman, “a large number of other organisations planning to adopt it in 2015​.”

Another area for the Pistoia Alliance is its Controlled Substance Compliance Service, which allows drugmakers to check the legal requirements around using controlled substances in pharmaceutical research. The project extended to include China this week.

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