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A gathering of scientists hailing from the public and private sector have unveiled a new initiative that could revolutionize the methods used for identifying cancer drugs.

The consortium, Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine (ATOM), will use a mix of high-performance computing, shared biological data, and emerging biotechnologies to reduce the time it takes for identifying a specific drug target to launching a new clinical candidate from an approximate six years to just 12 months.

Members of ATOM include the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), Frederick National Laboratory of Cancer Research (FNCLR), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and the University of California, San Francisco.

The goal will be to develop, test, and validate a multidisciplinary approach to drug discovery that relies on supercomputing simulations, data science, artificial intelligence, and other factors to create a single drug discovery platform that can be shared with the entire scientific community.

“The goals of ATOM are tightly aligned with those of the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims in part to enable a greater number of therapies to reach more patients more quickly,” said FNLCR Laboratory Director David Heimbrook, in a statement. “Although initially focused on precision oncology – treatments targeted specifically to the characteristics of the individual patient’s cancer – the consortium’s discoveries could accelerate drug discovery against many diseases.”

Here’s how the contributions will work.

GSK will contribute chemical and in vitro biological data for more than 2 million compounds from its screening collection as well as preclinical and clinical information on 500 molecules that initially failed in development but could support other development efforts by providing insight into the underlying biology of these compounds and the human body.

LLNL’s powerful supercomputers, along with its established approaches to modeling, simulation, and other computer science breakthroughs, would sift through this information to generate better dynamic models for predicting how these molecules would behave in the body. Additional information would be provided to these investigations in the future as more members join the group.

FNCLR will offer a wealth of scientific expertise in the areas of precision oncology, computer chemistry, and cancer biology. UCSF will perform a similar task by offering information on a comprehensive archive of drug discovery innovations and medicinal breakthroughs.

ATOM resembles another initiative launched earlier this month, which was called the Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT). It is a deal with the National Institutes for Health struck with 11 biopharmaceutical firms for identifying, developing, and validating biomarkers to advance development of new immunotherapy treatments.

The physical headquarters for ATOM will be based in the Mission Bay Neighborhood in San Francisco. The organization welcomes additional public and private partners to join who share the vision of the group.

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