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Challenge Seeks New Uses for Trial-Tested Drug Compounds

White pills in a prescription bottle (


28 March 2014. A new challenge on InnoCentive asks the medical research community for additional uses for drug compounds previously tested in clinical trials by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The challenge has a prize of $15,000, and a deadline for submissions of 31 May 2014 (free registration required).

InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowd-sourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors, in this case AstraZeneca based in London. Innocentive calls this type of competition a theoretical-IP transfer challenge, that requires a written proposal, but also requires the winning entrant to relinquish all intellectual property (IP) rights to the sponsor.

In this competition, AstraZeneca is making available a set of drug compounds previously tested in clinical trials, which according to the company showed manageable tolerability by patients and at least some evidence of relevance to their original disease targets. AstraZeneca is seeking new disease targets for these compounds, particularly where medical needs are not being adequately served.

Drug compounds to be investigated are listed in an AstraZeneca online catalog, which can be filtered by type of original disease target (e.g., inflammation, cancer), preclinical or clinical development, and ability to penetrate the central nervous system. Participants in the challenge should present their brief (2-3 page) proposals in the form of a hypothesis, with background information including previous research evidence, statement of medical need, and research plan.

The winning entrant will be asked to transfer full, exclusive IP rights to AstraZeneca. The company will consider a licensing agreement with partial transfer of IP rights — where a full transfer is not feasible — in exchange for a reduced award amount.

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