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Feds, Pharma Rivals Team Up On Alzheimer’s

Feds, Pharma Rivals Team Up On Alzheimer’s


An unusual partnership emerges to tackle Alzheimer’s.

A handful of stubborn diseases and a glut of raw scientific data that could help with future treatments has led to an unusual partnership between the government and the pharmaceutical industry.

Announced Feb. 4, 2014, the partnership will tackle research on Alzheimer’s Disease, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, Monica Langley and Jonathan D. Rockoff of The Wall Street Journal reported.

BloombergPfizer is one of 10 drug makers in the collaboration.

Under the five-year, $230 million collaboration, researchers with the National Institutes of Health and 10 drug makers will agree to share scientists, tissue and blood samples and data. Scientists today have voluminous data from gene sequencing and other sources, and it’s too much for one company to sift through alone in its research and development, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the NIH, in a video accompanying the Wall Street Journal story.

The collaboration will bring together rival companies such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMY +1.43% , Johnson & Johnson JNJ +0.16% , Pfizer Inc. PFE +0.15% and GlaxoSmithKline PLC GSK +0.99% . The research will be “pre-competitive,” Collins said, so no drug company will be claiming patents based on the discoveries.

Instead, the parties will work toward a better knowledge of how each disease works, and use that knowledge to find molecules that play important roles in the diseases’ progression that could then be targeted by potential drugs, the Journal reported. After the findings are made public, the companies will be free to resume competing to develop specific drugs.

“While no one expects a quick cure,” Collins said in the video, “We’re holding ourselves accountable to do something exceptional.”

Elizabeth O’Brien covers health care and retirement for MarketWatch in New York. Follow her on Twitter @elizobrien.

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