Open Targets: its History and Partners

In 2018, Celgene (now BMS) and Sanofi became the latest partners to join Open Targets, the pioneering pre-competitive partnership which brings together the Sanger Institute, EMBL-EBI and pharmaceutical companies GSK and Takeda to accelerate drug development and delivery through the application of big data.

Partners in Open Targets

Partners collaborating in Open Targets
Partners collaborating in Open Targets

About Open Targets

Open Targets was founded in 2014 to address a key challenge in drug development: that almost 90% of all drug discovery efforts fail during clinical trials and major drivers for this are a lack of efficacy or poor safety profiles due to a lack of understanding of the biological target the drug is acting upon. Open Targets addresses this by marrying the expertise of two scientific worlds to create a critical mass of knowledge and data that does not exist in any one organisation.

The initiative draws together the public domain expertise of the Sanger Institute and EMBL-EBI in generating and interpreting data from genomics, proteomics, chemistry and disease biology with the private drug discovery research of the pharma partners GSK, Takeda, BMS and Sanofi in areas spanning disease epidemiology, preclinical animal modelling, and biological processes.

It is hard to select a good target as the data required to do so is incomplete, dispersed and complex, Open Targets works to generate, integrate and understand the relevant data to enable high quality targets selection. 

The results of this public-private enterprise are that Open Targets’ partners are able to systematically identify targets associated with disease and prioritise the most promising targets that will lead to a successful drug discovery programmes. An increase in the rate of success in drug discovery will reduce both the time and cost of drug development.

A cornerstone of this unique endeavour, hosted on the Wellcome Genome Campus, is the Open Targets Platform. This user-friendly site openly integrates the evidence that associates targets with diseases and enables prioritisation within the associations to enable the community to understand the connections between targets and diseases to drive research and drug discovery activities. As of May 2020, the platform offers information on more than 27,000 targets and 13,800 diseases and generates more than 8.4 million target-disease associations from 20 different data sources. Explore the Open Targets Platform now

More about the Open Targets Programme here.