Dr Mat Todd and his team honoured for open access research to help solve real-world problem of malaria
This week in Washington DC, an MMV-funded project team, led by Dr Mat Todd at the University of Sydney, received a Public Library of Science (PLOS) Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP)1 award of USD 30,000. The ‘Open Source Malaria’ project was selected from more than 200 nominations from 30 countries for turning publicly available data into a global effort to identify new medicines for malaria.
“I hope this recognition will help enlist more people into the collaborative effort to fight malaria,” said Dr Mat Todd. “If we succeed with these efforts, the approach could be extended to fighting other diseases – such as cancer.”
The Open Source Malaria project was the first collaboration within MMV’s Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) programme, established in 2011 to help identify new compounds active against malaria. Since 2011, in addition to financial support from MMV and the Australian Research Council, MMV has provided the project with chemical starting points, screening tools and drug discovery expertise to help accelerate its progress to produce a viable drug candidate.
As the team conducts research, details are posted online in an 'electronic lab book' that is freely available on the internet. Alerts then go out via social media whenever new data are added and the team holds regular open web conferences to ensure everyone is up to speed. Scientists from around the world can thereby contribute in real-time to help advance compounds. The project has clearly demonstrated the willingness of scientists to share expertise and data.
In September this year, MMV provided Mat’s team with a new series of compounds for the project, the triazolopyrazines. The compounds in this series are particularly exciting, as they have already demonstrated promising activity in laboratory models of malaria.
“I am delighted to see Mat and the wider consortium recognised for their pioneering efforts to use open research to identify new antimalarials,” said Dr Jeremy Burrows, Head of Discovery at MMV. “With an exciting new chemical series to investigate and the boost in awareness from this award, we are eager to see how the project progresses.”
1. Sponsored by 27 global organizations, the ASAP program aims to embrace and advocate for research published through open access, to enable greater global collaboration, scientific progress and economic benefit for all.