University of Toronto biochemist Aled Edwards has been one of the leading champions of the open-source research movement in drug development. And he has some interesting numbers to back up his calls for a revolution in research.
There are, he says, 600,000 scientists around the world who are engaged in developing new drugs. And they spawn about 20 new therapies each year. That means that it now takes 30,000 lab-years to produce a single new drug at a cost of billions of dollars. The entire process is marked by secrecy and it is increasingly inefficient and wasteful.
"For the last 30 years, the drug industry has less and less productive measured by dollars in and drugs out," he tells the Star.
It would be far better, he maintains, if academic researchers and private developers worked in tandem, and in public. Rather than have four companies devote isolated teams of developers to the same task, with each facing a high risk of failure, they should work together to improve their odds. And his three-lab consortium plans to take the lead by engaging entirely in open-source drug research work. The Structural Genomics Consortium links 250 scientists who are studying the three-dimensional structure of proteins.
- read the article from The Star