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The Clouds have Opened Up for Collaborative Research

Posted by fbrown on Dec 14, 2011 6:07:12 AM

It was a great pleasure to announce last month that Accelrys has added HEOS by SCYNEXIS to the new Accelrys Cheminformatics Suite. There has been a lot of buzz since the announcement, including a well-attended webinar. So, I've invited Frederic Bost, director of information services at SCYNEXIS, back to expand on his recent post about HEOS and explain the value it brings to our Cheminformatics Suite.

Fredric Bost.JPGOne of the most significant trends influencing the way drug discovery proceeds is externalization. We've seen the impact directly here at SCYNEXIS, which is why we began building HEOS nine years ago. to facilitate collaborations with our research customers.

 

Today, research organizations are complementing their unique expertise and moving research programs forward by using externalization to bring valued, skilled partners into select projects. This has fundamentally changed the nature of outsourcing relationships. Once, outsourcing was based on transactions, with a commissioning company telling another company to "make this" or "test that."  Modern partnerships and outsourcing now aim to "discover this" through collaborations that often involve multiple partners playing different roles in different projects from locations around the world.

 

Most research organizations currently support collaborative research using one of two models. Some trade files via email or an e-room, an option that can be insecure and error prone, requires scientists to mediate and interprest the data exhanged between partners, doesn't occur in real time and simply doesn't scale to projects involving multiple partners. Other organizations opt to open up their internal systems to partners via VPN connections, relying on security settings in their internal systems to keep partners segregated. Most cheminformatics systems can do this, but internal systems have been designed on the assumption that everyone accessing data is an employee entitled to full access rights. Hence, opening up an internal system at best increases risk and requires extra resources to maintain security; at worst, it is time-consuming, expensive and, like the other model, fails to scale given the dynamic nature of collaborative research.

 

More importantly, both of these current models fail to address IP ownership. Traded files are hard to track, and storing IP from collaborative research alongside internally owned IP in the same system makes it difficult to delineate and separate who owns what when a collaboration ends.

 

The needs associated with modern collaborative, externalized researchare perfectly suited to cloud computing. HEOS, as we've demonstrated with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, captures all the data and processes associated with conducting multi-company drug discovery projects and was designed from the ground up to enable multiple companies with different access rights and requirements to collaborate within the system.

 

The graphic below shows how it works. A primary collaborator can establish any number of secure team areas in the HEOS cloud to manage collaborative research. Within each research area, the primary collaborator partitions access to the data among its partners. Some partners may only have the ability to upload or publish data. Others may be able to download certain data from other team members (such as an analytical lab needing to conduct tests on compounds produced by a medicinal chemistry partner). New partners can be rapidly spun onto projects or spun down when their services are no longer required. Best of all, collaborative IP remains in the collaborative space and can be partitioned among the partners and downloaded into their internal systems when appropriate.

 

Heos Collaboration.GIF

Above #is a figure showing how it works. A primary collaborator can establish any number of secure team areas in the HEOS cloud to manage collaborative research. Within each project area, the primary collaborator partitions access to the data among its partners. Some partners may only have the ability to upload or publish data. Others may be able to download certain data from other team members (such as an analytical lab needing to conduct tests on compounds produced by a medicinal chemistry partner). New partners can be rapidly spun onto projects or spun down when their services are no longer required. Best of all, collaborative IP remains in the collaborative space and can be partitioned among the partners and downloaded into their internal systems when appropriate.

 

To those who worry whether they can trust the cloud for managing research data, HEOS has been audited by some of the largest pharma companiesand has survived ethical hacking attack tests (read the HEOS security white paper to find out more). I’d say the cloud is ready for research data—HEOS is a proven technology that has managed millions of compounds and tens of millions of data points.

 

So, are you and your research partner networks ready for the cloud?

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