Sharing the fruits of science to accelerate drug discovery

MMV creates the Open Source Drug Discovery Programme

22 Mar 2012

MMV continues to keep the flag of innovation flying high. In a first-ever attempt by a product development partnership to share all information, data and ideas in real time and openly with fellow researchers, MMV has launched the Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) programme. 

OSDD contrasts with traditional drug discovery programmes which are typically implemented with defined teams, behind closed doors, releasing limited information into the public domain: Scientific teams compete to discover drugs with high commercial value, and feel more comfortable conducting research in secret. In neglected disease research, however, where products have low commercial value, the opportunity exists to conduct research in a more open forum. In addition, the Internet makes it much easier to share information in real time and for people located anywhere in the world to participate in projects.

OSDD is an experiment, a new way of doing drug discovery. Paul Willis, overseeing OSDD for MMV feels challenges lurk around every corner. “We need to discover optimum ways of working in this programme,” he says. “We must effectively prioritize all the suggestions and ideas received, as well as encourage drug discovery groups to get involved and carry out synthesis and screening for the project. At present, additional synthetic chemistry resources would be useful, although all offers to contribute are gratefully received.” 

MMV’s OSDD project currently includes the following groups: Dr Mat Todd and team (University of Sydney), Prof Vicky Avery (Griffith University, Australia), Dr Stuart Ralph (Bio 21, Australia) and GSK Tres Cantos. Dr. Sanjay Batra (CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), India) is also involved in the project; CSIR has initiated its own malaria open source drug discovery project with CDRI being the nodal laboratory.

Tim Wells, CSO of MMV, wonders what the future hold for this programme. “We hope that more teams will come on board and start to work on the project so that we can identify high quality drug candidates,” he says, “By allowing everyone to contribute and help tackle sticky issues, the open source model has the potential to speed up the drug discovery process. What can be more exciting than that?”