By James DeGiulio --
Earlier this year, GlaxoSmithKline announced an "open innovation" strategy to help deliver new and better medicines for diseases disproportionately affecting people living in the world's poorest countries. Making good on that promise, GSK has teamed up with the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), and Collaborative Drug Discovery (CDD) to make freely available more than 13,500 compounds that could ultimately lead to new treatments for malaria.
The data was generated by screening GSK's library of 2 million compounds for those that demonstrate potent inhibition of the most deadly malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Kinase inhibitors constituted a large proportion of the most potent compounds. The full results of the study are part of the cover story published in the May 20 issue of Nature ("Thousands of chemical starting points for antimalarial lead identification")
According to the GSK press release, the release of this data marks the first time that a pharmaceutical company has made the structures of so many compounds available at no cost to researchers. With the structure of the compounds and information about how they affect the malaria parasite, scientists can utilize these compounds for drug discovery or to study their mechanism of parasite inhibition.
The sharing of this data is an example of recent "open source" tactics being applied to drug discovery. EMBL-EBI will act as the primary repository for the data on this compound set, and will index further information that is deposited. GSK will add more data as it is generated and external scientists researching these compounds will be asked do the same. The data on the compounds can be found at the following links:
James DeGiulio has a doctorate in molecular biology and genetics from Northwestern University and is a third-year law student at the Northwestern University School of Law. Dr. DeGiulio was a member of MBHB's 2009 class of summer associates, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.