Open Targets: its History and Partners

Open Targets: its History and Partners

In 2018, Celgene and Sanofi became the sixth and seventh partners to join the pioneering precompetitive partnership- Open Targets- which brings together the Sanger Institute, EMBL-EBI and pharmaceutical companies to accelerate drug development and delivery through the application of big data.

Open Targets was launched in 2014 to address a key challenge in drug development: that almost 90% of all compounds entering clinical trials fail to become licensed medicines due to insufficient efficacy or patient safety. The root of this failure is often a lack of understanding of the biological target the drug is acting upon.

Open Targets addresses this issue by marrying the expertise of two scientific worlds to create a critical mass of knowledge and data that could 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 research of Biogen, GSK, Takeda, Celgene and Sanofi in areas spanning disease epidemiology, preclinical animal modelling, and biological processes.

The result of this public-private enterprise is that Open Target’s partners are able to systematically identify small molecules that are most tailored to a disease’s biological targets and prioritise those most likely to succeed for development. The goal is to 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 site openly shares all the sequence data and information gathered by the initiative to the wider scientific community to drive research and avoid duplication. As of February 2018, the platform offers information on 20,974 targets, 2,306,670 associations and 9,728 diseases from 17 data sources. Explore the Open Targets Platform now

More about the Open Targets Programme here.

Our other partnerships

Sanger's Technology Translation Team has partnered with a wide range of commercial organisations, large and small, ranging from investors and the biotech or pharmaceutical companies to reagents and service providers. More here

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