GSK uses technology to find new malaria treatments

BURLINGAME, Calif. Though the open-source philosophy has long influenced the computer software industry, British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline is applying it to drug discovery in the hopes of finding new treatments for malaria.

The drug company said Thursday it was collaborating with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the U.S. National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, and informatics service provider Collaborative Drug Discovery to make data on more than 13,500 compounds freely available to researchers.

GSK said this was the first time a pharmaceutical company had made the structures of so many compounds available. The company screened 2 million compounds in its library to find those that showed strong inhibition of Plasmodium falciparum, the protozoan parasite that causes malaria. Spread by mosquitoes, P. falciparum is common in poor countries in the tropics.

“We are delighted that EMBL-EBI, NLM and CDD have joined us in this worthwhile endeavor to apply the principles of open source to drug discovery for malaria,” GSK drug discovery head Patrick Vallance said. “Defeating this disease will require many scientific minds working together.”

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