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How Greater Collaboration and Access to Data can Help Tackle Rare Diseases

Posted on November 1st, 2018 by in Pharma R&D

pharma datathon NEW

It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States alone are living with one of 7,000 rare diseases, this equates to 10% of the population. There is, however, little financial incentive for the pharmaceutical sector to develop new treatments for these diseases because of the small patient population each disease affects. But there may be a way to overcome this barrier and give hope to the patients suffering with these diseases. Specifically, by using technology to explore existing data sets, researchers may be able to find already approved drugs to treat rare conditions.

In order to raise awareness of the potential of drug repurposing, Elsevier is hosting its Rare Disease Drug Repurposing Datathon, in collaboration with The Pistoia Alliance* and charities CuresWithinReach and Mission:Cure. The datathon is a competition, open to participants from the Pistoia Alliance member companies, but also academic and commercial organizations, where participants work with data science experts with the goal of identifying drugs that can be repurposed to treat rare diseases, such as chronic pancreatitis, Meniereā€™s disease, retinitis pigmentosa, and obsessiveā€“compulsive disorder.

To help the teams generate insights, Elsevier will provide relevant datasets and give participants access to its new cutting-edge data science platform, Entellect. The winning team will have their results used by CuresWithinReach, which will potentially result in a clinical trial based on their work. Due to popular demand, we have extended the deadline for registration until October 31st. Anyone who is interested in entering the datathon challenge can apply here.

At The Pistoia Alliance conference, it was also announced that Elsevierā€™s Tim Hoctor was re-elected to The Allianceā€™s Board of Directors. Tim will continue to help the Board set the overall strategic aims for the Alliance ā€“ something which he greatly enjoys being a part of. Tim has more than 20 yearsā€™ experience working in the technology and life science sectors, having worked with all of the top 10 pharma companies on data management strategies. As a member of The Allianceā€™s Board he will use this experience to suggest areas within the industry that will benefit from better collaboration. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Tim on his re-election, it is a great achievement and I look forward to hearing about upcoming projects from The Pistoia Alliance.

Best of luck to all the datathon entrants!


*The Pistoia Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation working to lower the barriers to innovation in life science and healthcare R&D through better collaboration ā€“ something we at Elsevier also firmly believe in. Last week at The Pistoia Allianceā€™s US conference in Boston, which I attended, we opened entries to the datathon and encouraged members of The Alliance to join.

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