Barnes M R, Harland L, Foord S M, Hall M D, Dix I, Thomas S, Williams-Jones B I, Brouwer C R. (2009) Lowering industry firewalls: pre-competitive informatics initiatives in drug discovery. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 8:701-708.
Pharmaceutical research and development is facing substantial challenges that have prompted the industry to shift funding from early- to late-stage projects. Among the effects is a major change in the attitude of many companies to their internal bioinformatics resources: the focus has moved from the vigorous pursuit of intellectual property towards exploration of pre-competitive cross-industry collaborations and engagement with the public domain. High-quality, open and accessible data are the foundation of pre-competitive research, and strong public-private partnerships have considerable potential to enhance public data resources, which would benefit everyone engaged in drug discovery. In this article, we discuss the background to these changes and propose new areas of collaboration in computational biology and chemistry between the public domain and the pharmaceutical industry.