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Friday, November 23, 2007

An open source quest for a TB medicine

T. V. Padma, 'Open source' urged for TB drug design effort, SciDev.Net, November 23, 2007.

One of India's top genetics researchers has called for a global, collaborative effort to design a new tuberculosis (TB) drug using an 'open source' approach.

Samir Brahmachari — recently appointed director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a chain of 38 government laboratories engaged in industry-oriented research — made the proposal at a meeting on science and innovation in Delhi last week (22 November).

He said that conducting such a project openly could lead to drugs that were more affordable to the world's poor....

According to his proposal, the problems of drug design could be divided into a number of work packages, each tackled by different teams of researchers, who would then make their proposed solutions freely available to others for comment.

Once potential solutions have been identified, the pharmaceutical industry would be able to incorporate these into the development of new candidate drugs and take them through clinical testing, just as the computer industry makes use of open source software (such as Linux) in the design of new computer programmes....

Brahmachari said that his proposals for an 'open source' approach were in the spirit of the original human genome project, where information was placed on an open database freely accessible to scientists across the world....

"Once we do this, we can start conquering other diseases using the same 'open source' model," he added....