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Roche and AstraZeneca have launched a consortium that will share early research data related to drug design to accelerate the discovery of new compounds.

The drug companies will make their selected databases available to a third company, MedChemica, which specialises in analysing chemical compounds to improve their metabolism, pharmacokinetics or safety using Matched Molecular Pair Analysis technology.

It is hoped that by sharing their data, the firms will increase their chance of developing clinically successful drugs.

The news comes just over a week after AstraZeneca’s diabetes drug Onglyza, developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb, failed to reduce heart attack risks or strokes in a clinical trial.

"It is unique in the history of our industry that two major players are sharing their know-how at such an early stage of research."

The firm is desperately looking to develop new products that replace big sellers such as antipsychotic Seroquel, which has lost its patent protection.

Commenting on the collaboration, Mike Snowden, head of Discovery Sciences in Innovative Medicines and Early Development, said: "AstraZeneca has taken multiple steps to both open our compound libraries to those wishing to find exciting new chemistries for early drug discovery and to share compound related datasets that will allow our industry to speed the discovery of new medicines."

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Luca Santarelli, head of Neuroscience and Small Molecule Research at Roche, added: "It is unique in the history of our industry that two major players are sharing their know-how at such an early stage of research.

"We believe that this transparency of small molecule optimisation knowledge, in a smart and thoughtful way, could profoundly enhance our ability to design drugs, be of benefit for all parties involved and ultimately help bring better medicines to patients."

Roche and AstraZeneca will make their selected databases available for this type of joint analysis and will later share the research with charities and academia.

Image: AstraZeneca is looking to replace top selling drugs which have lost their patents. Photo courtesy of AstraZeneca.