12 Oct 2012, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
Singapore: In a move to promote openness, transparency and collaboration in research and development, multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has thrown open its TB compound library.
GSK scientists have screened the company's entire pharmaceutical compound library of more than two million compounds for any that may inhibit tuberculosis (TB) bacteria and will publish in a scientific journal the results of this process - about 200 promising hits that could act as new starting points for the discovery of new medicines for TB. This is the first time a pharmaceutical company will have made public its own proprietary compounds which have demonstrated signs of activity against TB.
Ahead of a meeting hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London on October 11, GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty outlined new steps to build on the encouraging signs of progress resulting from GSK's ‘open innovation' approach to R&D, designed to help develop new solutions for the world's most serious health challenges. Over the past few years, GSK has been making fundamental changes to its business model to become more open to sharing its intellectual property and knowledge, and to forming partnerships to help stimulate more R&D into diseases that most affect the world's poorest people.
"As a truly global healthcare company, I believe we have a responsibility to do all we can at GSK to use our resources, knowledge and expertise to help tackle serious global health challenges. However, the complexity of the science and the scale of the challenge mean that we cannot solve these problems alone. We need to take a different approach - one focused on partnership, collaboration and openness. By being more open with our clinical trial data, we also hope to help further scientific understanding. I am pleased with the progress we have made so far to evolve our business model but we recognise there is more we can do and the new initiatives outlined today will enable us to build on this work."
Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "In its commitment towards more openness and collaboration, GSK is setting an example of how the pharmaceutical industry must adapt to help drive forward medical advances. Real breakthroughs do not come out of nowhere, but are borne of scientists sharing their knowledge and learning from each other. GSK's moves are bold and innovative, a very positive sign of its commitment to tackle some of the greatest health challenges facing the world today."
It is hoped the move by GSK will encourage others to pursue a fully open approach to research into a disease that causes around 1.5 million deaths around the world every year. This builds on a similar work carried out by GSK in 2009 to place all of its malaria compounds in the public domain. Since the publication of this data in 2010, GSK's anti-malarial dataset has been shared with research institutions around the world, resulting in a number of promising research projects now underway.
GSK has also decided to double funding for its ‘Open Lab' at Tres Cantos, Spain, awarding it an additional $8 million (£5 million). The ‘Open Lab' was established in 2010 to allow independent researchers access to GSK facilities, resources and knowledge to help them advance their own research projects into diseases of the developing world. Two years since the ‘Open Lab' was established, there are now 16 research projects in the portfolio.