Recently, open science has been making major strides in the news. Sure, people have been clamoring for full disclosure and availability of journal articles, especially of research funded by federal grants, and ultimately, taxpayer money. The Public Library of Science project, or PLOS, is one of those major strides in open access research, and allowing for accelerated discovery and education of research. Another major player in the open science field is the Yale School of Medicine Open Access to Data (YODA) Project, which has been gaining a lot of press recently due to Johnson & Johnson’s announcement to share their data from their pharmaceutical clinical-trials through YODA.1 While open science is often discussed in the life sciences sector, other fields have also clamored for public access, as Microsoft has recently announced its mission to make all of its research publicly available.2
Why is this so important? Scientists that support open science believe that dissemination of knowledge should be freely available for anyone who wants to learn. This has become increasingly important in the modern age of internet access and smartphones, where people can constantly be wired in and continuously updated on the current news. Proponents of open science believe that this sharing of information allows for research to be scrutinized and validated, in addition to aiding innovation and spur new research. Having more information informs current studies, and can improve the efficacy of various phases in the drug discovery pipeline. Despite the positive effects of open science, one issue that comes with open clinical trial data availability is the issue of privacy. The data that will be released will be of anonymized patient data, but some people are still questioning the ethics of releasing these data. Perhaps future regulation on patient privacy and the legality of releasing such data will be determined in the future, but for now, it appears as though open access has gained another major supporter in Johnson & Johnson.
Assay Depot has long been a proponent of open science, as seen through our involvement of Bio, Tech and Beyond’s open science lab in Carlsbad and our various Open Science Challenges. Because there is such a need for new and effective drugs, having more readily available data will allow researchers to more readily discover new therapies. If one clinical trial at Johnson & Johnson did not work because of a specific problem, other scientists will now know not to repeat the same mistake because the information will be readily available. This can save both time and resources and the scientists can then design a better clinical trial for the future!
- Mansell, P. J&J to share clinical-trial data through Yale open-access project. PharmaTimes online. February 04 2014.