Merial develops pharmaceutical drugs, biological vaccines, and wellness products for a range of animal health issues. Merial has pioneered a business model of outsourcing and contracting for services at different points in the value chain, thus providing access to complementary competencies outside the firm. Merial’s Pharma Discovery & Research department has implemented an advanced research informatics platform for sharing data and communicating with their worldwide network of research partners. Chemical synthesis partners in the USA and China upload data associated with the synthetic processes and Merial, as the sponsor, can rapidly review and provide feedback. CRO partners in the USA, France, and elsewhere run screens for Merial’s hit-to-lead/lead optimization/candidate drug molecules and the data is securely shared with Merial via the ScienceCloud. By orchestrating the research process, Merial owns the high-end of the drug discovery value chain. This has resulted in high productivity and tangible business outcomes including two drug candidates that have recently reached the clinical testing phase.
Large Pharma/academic research collaborations have unique requirements for efficient project progress. These include secure communication channels, real-time exchange of scientific data / project management information, and access to high throughput data analysis and visualization tools. Furthermore, while large-Pharma requirements for data archiving and standardized workflows have been challenging to implement with historic tools, they are essential for project integrity. ScienceCloud, a secure cloud-based research collaboration platform, represents a convenient and comprehensive solution for these challenges and one that can be implemented without requiring access to company-internal servers. At MSD we have successfully applied ScienceCloud to several collaborations with academic partners. Beyond using it as a team-space for shared documents and as a communication platform, we have also leveraged its capability to batch-register compounds, with or without shared structures, into the project database. In addition, “Assay”, ScienceCloud’s embedded on-line tool for data analysis, enabled our academic partner’s with access to high-throughput curve-fitting capabilities and allowed for real-time tracking of all assay data. This provides a time-saving method for analyzing large data set and allows for an open platform granting team members access to both the raw data and the details of how the data was analyzed. Overall, ScienceCloud has proven to be a flexible system that has increased productivity on multiple fronts to drive successful scientific collaborations.