Pharma embraces open source models: Finally!
In the social media era, when there are so many opportunities for collaborations, we just had to wait until pharma companies realize that and find some ways to work together for better drugs or methods. A recent Nature Biotechnology article written by Stephen Strauss features some major steps in this area.
On May 19, two large pharmaceutical companies participated in the unprecedented deposition of hundreds of thousands of potential leads for new malaria drugs into an open source database. The two companies, London-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Novartis of Basel, together with the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, submitted the chemical structures of 328,100 compounds active against the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum to a European Bioinformatics Institute ChEMBL Neglected Tropical Disease archive. This willingness to cooperate in nonproprietary collaborations goes beyond diseases neglected by commercial developers to other aspects of drug discovery research. A recent flurry of open source collaborations have sprung up recently aimed at extracting value out of precompetitive information. Merck, of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, signed up with Sage Bionetworks, a Seattle-based nonprofit collaborative information platform run by former Merck scientists and executives, and New York-based Pfizer has entered into a similar arrangement. These and other deals mark the beginning of a radical reconfiguration of the initial stages of the drug discovery process that were traditionally carried out within companies.
And click here to see a table containing selected open source collaborations involving pharma.