Pharma Giant GSK Openly Sharing Malaria Chemical and Biological Screening Data

Guest Blog from Dr. Sylvia Ernst (CDD Senior Director, Community Growth)

What would make a publicly traded large Pharma company open up their treasure chest of internal well protected secret screening data and make them available to the world? “Ha! – Nothing!” or “Never!”, you might say…

Well – buckle up – the world of Drug Discovery has officially changed today, May 19th 2010. GSK, GlaxoSmithKline, did just that: Screened 2 million compounds, found more than 13,500 with activity inhibiting the Malaria parasite. And instead of trying to continue on the beaten (Drug Discovery)-path and make a new drug at GSK for sale – they published those active compounds with their data to the whole world, sharing a wealth of research IP. WOW!

We here at CDD are tremendously proud to be part of this historical event but also truly delighted as this touches onto our key mission: To help accelerate specifically the discovery of new, effective and affordable drugs to fight diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis and the like, neglected diseases. Neglected they are typically because corporations prefer to focus their resources on making shareholders happy by selling what rich markets buy. Nonetheless – those neglected diseases are killing millions of people, many of them children every year in terrible ways while effective, affordable treatments are badly needed but commercially unattractive to go after (I personally think quite passionately that treatments here are so much more needed than for “lifestyle ailments” of the rich markets).

So – historically this step is an almost evolutionary leap in thinking about the intersection of economic markets and humanitarian needs. Also – not just because a large Pharma company is sharing their treasure to help in a non-commercial way to fight one of the worst diseases on the planet but also because this may be the dawning of an entirely new paradigm on how to find new drugs: By involving the global research communities, harnessing the power of millions of scientists and labs with their expertise, intelligence, creativity. This is crowd-sourcing at its finest.

This is the seed – water, nutrients, and sun are welcome from all of you.

Read more about this historic event in the Wall Street Journal.