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Collaborative Research Gets a Boost with Project Data Sphere Launch

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Competition is a vital part of any industry. But sometimes competition needs to be put aside in the interest of progress. This is something the research-based pharmaceutical industry has become increasingly aware of, and I’m happy to say this realisation has inspired moves towards increasingly collaborative research. Last week saw the launch of Project Data Sphere – another industry initiative dedicated to putting aside competition and joining forces in the interests of improved research – and improved patient outcomes.

Project Data Sphere is a platform dedicated to the responsible sharing of clinical trial data in the oncology field. The aim is to transform “big data” into tangible solutions for cancer patients – a goal that has inspired companies that normally consider one another competitors to join forces and share data. Prior to the initiative’s launch, three major pharmaceutical companies entered into Project Data Sphere’s data-sharing agreement, enabling cancer clinical trial data to be available for research at the time of launch.

I am happy to say this is a growing trend in my industry, as can be seen in projects like the Innovative Medicines Initiative, a public-private partnership between the European Commission and EFPIA that brings together not only different companies, but different stakeholders from researchers to patient groups. IMI’s collaborative projects include NEWMEDS, which created the largest known database of studies on schizophrenia by compiling information from many different companies; and EU-AIMS, a project devoted to Autism Spectrum Disorders that is the single largest grant for autism world-wide. IMI’s projects have already shown success and this soon we will have IMI2 – the second Innovative Medicines Initiative – to carry on this success.

Cancer research is an especially interesting area to explore data sharing agreements because of the opportunities we have to develop targeted therapies based on the classification of a specific cancer’s genotype. There are types of cancer we haven’t even identified yet – but the hope is that in the future we can not only identify them but also develop treatments for them based on their unique molecular makeup. It’s an ambitious dream but not an unrealistic one. Initiatives like Project Data Sphere will bring us that much closer. 

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EFPIA Director General

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