Ambitious Ideas: Open Sourced Drug Discovery

Paul Graham penned a wonderfully inspirational post recently in which he discussed a number of ‘frighteningly ambitious startup ideas’. Given his proclivity for software and the Internet it is not surprising that the ideas he raises were things like replacing Google’s search engine dominance and delivering us from inbox evil.

Quite separately, a colleague at The University of Sydney, Matthew Todd,  forwarded me an article overnight that he co-authored in Nature on “open science as a research accelerator’.

In the article Matthew and two others discuss how open source-inspired thinking led him on a journey to produce an off-patent drug that could help millions of people around the world deal with bilharzia, a silent pandemic.

From their perspective the key benefit of their open approach was the acceleration of the research:

Experts identified themselves, and spontaneously contributed based on what was being posted online. The research therefore inevitably proceeded faster than if we had attempted to contact people in our limited professional circle individually, in series.

While Matthew was working on open sourcing process chemistry, he posits the question whether a similar approach could be applied to drug discovery.

The pharmaceutical industry is currently undergoing somewhat of a pipeline-related crisis and so the timing could not be better for such an approach to work.

In line with Paul’s thinking this is one of those frighteningly ambitious ideas. As Matthew points out, “There has been discussion of open-source drug discovery, but no coordinated efforts at compound discovery.”

This seems to me to be an area ripe for investigation. One that could herald a new age of abundance (read Peter Diamindis’s new book on this) in health and wellness.

I hope this is a topic that will be covered at the upcoming Founders Fund future conference!

 

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