Business Week reports
GlaxoSmithKline will open up its research cupboards and labs to outside
scientists in an unusual effort to trigger more research on malaria and other
neglected tropical diseases. The company also said its researchers expect in
2012 to be able to seek approval for the first vaccine against malaria, a
mosquito-borne parasitic disease that kills a million people a year, mostly
young children in Africa. Glaxo has several drugs in testing to treat malaria
as well, but it is offering scientists worldwide free access to extensive data
on 13,500 other compounds that appear to work against malaria. Glaxo will let
other scientists try to develop malaria drugs -- free from royalties or other
payments to Glaxo -- from that library of compounds. They were winnowed down
from more than 2 million screened by hand against potentially dangerous blood
samples containing the malaria parasite by five Glaxo scientists who devoted a
year to the project. Glaxo also plans to give up to 60 outside scientists from
around the globe access to what it called the "first-ever Open Lab,"
at an existing company research lab in Spain. Researchers from universities,
foundations and the like will be able to use the facilities and harness the
know-how of Glaxo scientists to try to develop new medicines for diseases
plaguing poor countries. As part of the Open Lab project, Glaxo will start a
foundation to fund research and idea sharing, kicking in $8 million initially.
It will also expand its existing patent pool of data on various neglected
diseases, bringing in a new partner, the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery,
and turning control over to a nonprofit health group focused on developing
biotech medicines, BIO Ventures for Global Health.