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Secrets Don't Make Friends — or New Drugs — in Pharma

Matthew Herper at Forbes' The Science Business blog examines ways in which major drug companies are beginning to "open up" their operations in order to promote scientific progress. "Secrecy leads companies to race down the same blind alleys, to miss opportunities and to understand biology less than they otherwise might," Herper writes, introducing new initiatives by former executives at companies from Merck to Genentech, which aim to "open up many stages of drug development, from basic science to human research, in the hopes of ending this drought" of new drugs. GlaxoSmithKline has generated attention for its deposition of 13,500 anti-malaria compounds in the European Bioinformatics Institute's ChEMBL chemical database for free use. "At Sage Bionetworks in Seattle, former Merck vice-president Stephen Friend is trying to pool data from drug companies and academics to create predictive models of the body's chemistry," Herper reports. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, and former Genentech executive, told Herper that "all companies today are concerned with the sustainability with the way we've done research and development over the years. … The question is can you give up the secret nature that is your competitive advantage because you gain so much participating in a process like this?"

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.