Posted by Herve | Posted in Health | Posted on 24-01-2010
Tags: disease treatment, drug, poverty
There are about 300-500 million cases of malaria every year, killing between 1 to 3 million people. It places a major strain on resources and considerably slow the development of countries in which it is endemic. It has been estimated that in some countries the disease decrease purchasing power by a factor 5, takes 2 points of growth, and costs Africa $12 billions USD every year. In some countries it may account for up to 40% of public health expenditure. In young children it can lead to brain damage.
In this context, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical company, is taking a radical step to boost global research on malaria treatment. It just announced an “open innovation” strategy with the following benefits:
- creation of an “Open Lab” established with $8m funding for new research. Scientists from around the world will have access to the “Open Lab” based at the company’s research centre, and will be able to tap into the expertise, knowledge and infrastructure of the company, while pursuing their own projects as part of an integrated drug discovery team.
- data on 13,500 potential anti-malaria molecules will be made freely available through internet. Those molecules have been selected by GSK for having an effect against the disease.
- New collaborations to share intellectual property for neglected tropical diseases and tuberculosis.
- Pledge to create sustainable pricing model for world’s most advanced malaria candidate vaccine
This is extremely good news. Although the open source concept has been around for years, it is best know in the IT and software industry. Similar but smaller initiative did occur in resent past (see for instance the Tropical disease initiative), but this new step from GSK can be hailed as a significant one.