In the hunt for drugs that target diseases in the developing world, ‘open innovation’ is creating a buzz. Pharmaceutical companies are making entire libraries of chemical compounds publicly available, allowing researchers to rifle through them for promising drug candidates.
The latest push for open innovation, unveiled last month as part of a World Health Organization road map to control neglected tropical diseases, will see 11 companies sharing their intellectual property to give researchers around the world a head start on investigating drug leads (see 'Road map unveiled to tackle neglected diseases' - http://www.nature.com/news/road-map-unveiled-to-tackle-neglected-diseases-1.9938). It makes for good press, and investors are not worried about giving away potentially blockbuster drugs because the diseases in question are not commercial priorities.
But is it good science? The answer, from the first large-scale initative of this kind, is a cautious 'yes'.