By pooling their brightest minds and best research, ten big drug companies hope to decipher diseases in ways each hasn't been able to do on its own.
Under a five-year collaboration the ten companies together with the National Institute of Health (NIH) have agreed to share scientists, tissue and blood samples and data. The diseases that are under joint investigation are Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.
Drug companies are traditionally secretive about their discoveries as they rush to patent any new drugs. This cooperative effort allows them to use discoveries only after the information has been shared with the public, similar to the "open source" movement in the software world.
The pharmaceutical companies cooperating in the NIH project that research drugs for diabetes are Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi. These companies hope to catalog genetic changes that raise or lower a person's risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The research has timetables and benchmarks to ensure accountability so it doesn't become last in government bureaucracy.
Source: National Institues of Health