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Alliances for Innovation: Insight from Steve Yang

In the face of a wide-spread pandemic, something extraordinary is happening in the drug development industry – competitors are becoming collaborators and collaborations are accelerating results.

WuXi AppTec’s Co-CEO, Head of RSD, Head of WuXi Testing, Steve Yang, spoke to BioCentury about the data sharing nuances emerging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pharmaceutical and biotech companies of all sizes, embarking on different developmental courses, are creating data sharing pathways for assay format, data output and endpoint efficacy.

The Influence of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Accelerating the drug development process is the ultimate intention behind collaboration – especially amidst the pandemic – and one tactic to do so is harmonizing common assays, explains Yang.

Yang points out that the COVID-19 virus and some of its potential targets are closely aligned in their amino acid sequence and enzymatic class. “There is a great opportunity for the industry, and specifically at WuXi AppTec, to leverage our learning from virology in general, and specifically against this type of virus.”

By data-sharing these common approaches, it’s easier to reproduce results and allow collaborators to gain insights and create consistency in the data output. In 2020, the industry has afforded drug developers the ability to compare these elements and to analyze efficacy endpoints like never before.

Yang adds, “We can play a unique role to support all these different approaches. And that’s the beauty of an open-access platform – [to] operate at very high quality and consistency.”

Collaboration is advancing innovation in the drug development industry and moving us closer to solutions that have the potential to combat some of the most significant health challenges we face today and in the future.

Rapid Discovery Advancement

The industry is facing an increase in urgency to produce well-performing assays, and companies are shifting their perspectives on data sharing in response. Collaboration is expanding to new heights among clients with aims to access data that can accelerate development timelines.

Sponsor data preferences and privacy are top priorities, and as collaboration materializes, information is selectively divulged to protect intellectual property. At WuXi AppTec, we take pride in our exceptional commitment to data privacy. While our platform supports these emerging joint efforts, we do not share data unless companies indicate pre-specified collaborations.

When describing the open-access platform, Yang says, “When we deliver the results of an experiment – it could be an assay or a compound synthesis – it is at the specification of our customer or partner. They could choose to work together and specify which data and which compounds they want to share among themselves, as long as they – the partners – make it clear to us in the original agreement in advance.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an influx in the volume of such collaborations. Many of these involve multiple companies, who set data-sharing protocols that are agreed upon by all parties. In trying times, it is clear our industry pulls together and maximizes opportunities with new approaches.

Steve Yang says, “My hope is we can continue to share the scientific learning across the international community, and that will ultimately help us to be ready for whatever threatens global human health.”

Listen to the full interview on BioCentury, as part of their 2020 Back to School package.

Follow WuXi AppTec Laboratory Testing Division on LinkedIn for industry insights and program support.

Established in December 2000, WuXi AppTec provides a broad portfolio of R&D and manufacturing services that enable companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries worldwide to advance discoveries and deliver groundbreaking treatments to patients. With industry-leading capabilities such as R&D and manufacturing for small molecule drugs, cell and gene therapies, and testing for medical devices, WuXi AppTec’s open-access platform is enabling more than 4,000 collaborators from over 30 countries to improve the health of those in need – and to realize our vision that “every drug can be made and every disease can be treated”.

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