Posted by: commonsresource | May 31, 2010

A Toast to Open Source Health pt. 2- Glaxo embraces commons sourcing to find malaria drug

The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Journal had another great article last week entitled Glaxo Tries a Linux Approach – Drug Maker Shares Its Research Data Online in Test of Open-Source Principles to Find Malaria Drug. Robert Guth’s article discusses GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s decision to open “to the public the designs behind 13,500 chemical compounds that it said may be capable of inhibiting the parasite that causes malaria” with the “hope that sharing information and working together will lead scientists to come up with a drug for treating the mosquito-borne disease faster than the company could on its own.” As Robert correctly points out, “large pharmaceutical companies tightly guard their formulas for drugs and other intellectual property” so it is interesting to note that “Glaxo says that it won’t seek patents on any malaria drug that the compounds yield, and hopes other researchers will also donate their intellectual property to a patent pool for so-called neglected diseases like malaria.”

While it is too early to assess the prediction by Barry Bunin,  the chief executive of  Collaborative Drug Discovery Inc. , “that the work on neglected diseases is a precursor for big pharmaceutical companies to eventually use the open-source techniques for developing commercial drugs”, it is incredibly exciting to see Glaxo embrace commons sourcing as a way to advance drug discovery and development. As I noted in my earlier post, it is inspiring to see how commons sourcing and related open source approaches are already tackling many challenges in global health.

This wonderful news clearly warrants a toast to Glaxo and yet another toast to Open Source Health!


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