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Researchers Share Libraries Of Chemical Compounds To Spur Development Of Drug Candidates

Nature reports how “[i]n the hunt for drugs that target diseases in the developing world, … [p]harmaceutical companies are making entire libraries of chemical compounds publicly available, allowing researchers to rifle through them for promising drug candidates.” The journal writes, “The latest push for open innovation, unveiled last month as part of a World Health Organization road map to control neglected tropical diseases, will see 11 companies sharing their intellectual property to give researchers around the world a head start on investigating drug leads.”

Nature provides a brief history of the development of malaria data sharing since GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) “announced that it would release details of about 13,500 molecules that had already been shown to inhibit the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite” two years ago, and details several research initiatives that utilize similar libraries of information. “It is still far from clear how many of the molecules are likely to be viable drugs, however, and some researchers worry that failures could have been weeded out before the data were released,” Nature writes. But R. Kiplin Guy, a medicinal chemist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, said researchers “took a risk to put our data out into the public domain. … It’s demonstrably working. There are a lot of papers coming out with these compounds in them now and you’re going to see a lot more of them,” according to Nature (Cressey, 2/14).