Open Source Drug Discovery for Infectious Diseases

  • Date and time: Friday 25 October 2019, 1pm
  • Location: Dianna Bowles Lecture Theatre (K018)
  • Admission: Free admission

Event details

Speaker: Professor Matthew H. Todd, Professor of Drug Discovery, UCL

The open sharing of research is a driver of innovation in biomedical research. Many funding agencies now mandate the full sharing of project-related data, and most pharmaceutical companies are engaged in substantial “open innovation” programs. We have demonstrated the logical extension of such ideas to “open source” drug discovery in which all data and ideas are shared in real time, anyone can participate and no patent protection is sought. The pilot project involved the synthesis of an improved version of the world’s most widely used anthelmintic, praziquantel.1 With the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) we have more recently demonstrated successful execution of hit-to-lead projects in the Open Source Malaria Consortium, to which scientists have contributed from the private and public sectors, ranging from academics to school students.2 Highly promising series are now being explored for the potential treatment of tuberculosis,3 mycetoma4 and, most recently, bacterial infections.5 We have recently argued for the expansion of such an approach to full-scale drug development as a competing model for the traditional pharmaceutical industry,6 and the economic opportunity of this approach will be outlined.


1) Open Science is a Research Accelerator, M. Woelfle, P. Olliaro and M. H. Todd, Nature Chem. 2011, 3, 745–748 (10.1038/nchem.1149). 2) Open Source Drug Discovery: Highly Potent Antimalarial Compounds Derived from the Tres Cantos Arylpyrroles, A. E. Williamson, et al. ACS Cent. Sci. 2016, 2, 687–701 (10.1021/acscentsci.6b00086). 3) Easy-to-Synthesize Spirocyclic Compounds Possess Remarkable In Vivo Activity Against Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, A. Guardia, et al. J. Med. Chem. 2018, 61, 11327–11340 (10.1021/acs.jmedchem.8b01533). 4) Addressing the Most Neglected Diseases through an Open Research Model: the Discovery of Fenarimols as Novel Drug Candidates for Eumycetoma, W. Lim, et al. PLoS NTD 2018, 12(4): e0006437 (10.1371/journal.pntd.0006437). 5) Initial website: 6) An Open Source Pharma Roadmap, M. Balasegaram, et al. PLoS Med. 2017, 14(4), e1002276 (10.1371/journal.pmed.1002276).