Scientists tout 'open source' drug discovery


Todd labelled the open source movement as "transformative" and compared the way proprietary software development is carried out behind closed doors, in contrast to open source programmers that co-ordinate and share their code and ideas.

"What we're proposing is that while you're doing the work, you release everything onto the internet as you're doing it so everyone can see it and by doing that you allow people who are not part of your core team to input whatever they want, they can advise and they can get involved in the project.

"This is exactly the way the software works; it means anybody with a computer can help out and in the case of our project, anyone who is reading what we're doing and has access to a lab in particular can just start making molecules and get involved."

According to Todd, the whole incentive to applying the methodology to drug discovery is getting a result quicker, although no drug has been discovered using the open source method to date.

"If you've got a problem and you want to solve it you need a lot of people looking at it and basically our approach is exactly that, so if you want to solve a really difficult problem like finding a drug for malaria then you need more people looking at the problem and you can't do that if you work in a patent system where you're secretive."