Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Commentary on GSK cancer data

Latha Jishnu, GSK's big bang on open drug discovery, Business Standard, June 25, 2008.
It was unexpected and went almost unnoticed. Last Friday, pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the world's second largest drug maker, announced in Philadelphia that it was donating an important slice of its research on cancer cells to the cancer research community to boost the collaborative battle against this disease. Only a couple of specialty wire services in the US picked up this news; the mainstream press ignored what appears to be a marked and dramatic shift in the approach to drug discovery.

What we are seeing is the first big bang contribution to open source drug discovery (OSDD), an initiative to rope in researchers, universities and companies to make drug breakthroughs less expensive and time-consuming. ...

[The GSK data] is a godsend for small research units and academic institutions which will have access to this information without incurring what the company describes as "the prohibitive cost and time involved in identifying and cataloguing each cell line". The hope is that somewhere, sometime, some brilliant researcher or two will make a stunning breakthrough sifting through this data.

The critical component in OSDD is, of course, the information network that supports it. ... caBIG, already a huge repository of genetic information, is a network that will allow all constituencies in the cancer community from researchers and physicians to patients to share information that is aimed at accelerating the discovery of new approaches for the detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer. ...
See also our earlier post on this story.

Update. See also the comments on the Science Commons blog:
... Why would a major pharmaceutical company give away information that its researchers painstakingly uncovered? Put simply, if the goal is to speed the translation of data into drugs, it helps significantly to have more researchers looking at the data and identifying leads. ...