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J Biomol Screen. 2011 Jul;16(6):588-602. doi: 10.1177/1087057111405379. Epub 2011 Apr 26.

Open innovation for phenotypic drug discovery: The PD2 assay panel.

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  • 1Department of Quantitative and Structural Biology, Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


Phenotypic lead generation strategies seek to identify compounds that modulate complex, physiologically relevant systems, an approach that is complementary to traditional, target-directed strategies. Unlike gene-specific assays, phenotypic assays interrogate multiple molecular targets and signaling pathways in a target "agnostic" fashion, which may reveal novel functions for well-studied proteins and discover new pathways of therapeutic value. Significantly, existing compound libraries may not have sufficient chemical diversity to fully leverage a phenotypic strategy. To address this issue, Eli Lilly and Company launched the Phenotypic Drug Discovery Initiative (PD(2)), a model of open innovation whereby external research groups can submit compounds for testing in a panel of Lilly phenotypic assays. This communication describes the statistical validation, operations, and initial screening results from the first PD(2) assay panel. Analysis of PD(2) submissions indicates that chemical diversity from open source collaborations complements internal sources. Screening results for the first 4691 compounds submitted to PD(2) have confirmed hit rates from 1.6% to 10%, with the majority of active compounds exhibiting acceptable potency and selectivity. Phenotypic lead generation strategies, in conjunction with novel chemical diversity obtained via open-source initiatives such as PD(2), may provide a means to identify compounds that modulate biology by novel mechanisms and expand the innovation potential of drug discovery.

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