Open source is a philosophy or pragmatic methodology that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details. Open source is the major driving force behind the IT revolution. Open-source software refers to software whose source code is published and made available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees. Open-source code can evolve through community cooperation. These communities are composed of individual programmers as well as very large companies.
Pharmaceutical companies are unwilling to develop drugs against orphan diseases , or diseases with occurrence rate of less than seven per ten thousand people, and diseases which affect mostly poor citizens of the developing and the under-developed nations due to the narrow profit margin. What is the possible leap to cross these hurdles? Open sourcing the process of drug development or a part of it? Yes!
“I believe that affordable healthcare is a right for all. But, pragmatically speaking, when it comes to health, we need to have a balanced view between health as a right and health as a business. Therefore it is the responsibility of public-funded institutions to participate in this area in an open collaborative mode. Confidentiality and IPR Protection increases cost and decreases free knowledge sharing for drug discovery. Targeted drugs that are market driven — or that rich people can afford — can be made by the patent-protected route. But for drugs that are not driven by the market and those are needed by the poor, open source is an advantage”.
Samir K Brahmachari
Chief Mentor, OSDD
OSDD (Open Source Drug Discovery) is a CSIR-led global initiative with a vision to provide affordable healthcare to the developing world by providing a global platform where the best minds can collaborate & collectively endeavor to solve the complex problems associated with discovering novel therapies for neglected tropical diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis, Leshmaniasis, etc. It is a concept to collaboratively aggregate the biological and genetic information available to scientists in order to use it to hasten the discovery of drugs.
Another very important aspect of open sourcing, Brahmachari emphasizes, is the involvement of young, brilliant minds:
“The open source model gives students in colleges and universities an opportunity to experience and share scientific excitement. It provides a practical platform to them and an opportunity to contribute to the scientific cause. Brilliance flourishes where knowledge is free and the mind unfettered to soar to the highest reaches of excellence”.