Open Science Approaches to the Treatment of a Rare Childhood Cancer
Drug Discovery News
The pharmaceutical industry has historically undertaken a consistent strategy for the discovery and development of new drugs for a range of different diseases, involving a competitive approach in which organizations maintain confidentiality of all information supported by patents to protect their inventions. This can result in duplication of efforts and the repetition of failures as different organizations are unaware of failed activities elsewhere. The not-for-profit virtual company, M4K Pharma, is pioneering a new experimental Open Science approach to the drug discovery process in which all available information is shared across the wider scientific community. Using this approach and focusing on diseases with an urgent unmet medical need (such as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the first disease currently being investigated), M4KPharma believes that the identification of a candidate drug will be achieved much faster by pooling available knowledge of both successes and failures along the way.
M4K Pharma is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Agora Open Science Trust and is led by Owen Roberts (CEO) and Aled Edwards (Director). The wider M4K project team comprises a number of different organizations, with the key drivers being the Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR) in Canada (project management, chemistry and ADME), Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) in Oxford, U.K. (cellular screening and crystallography), and Charles River Early Discovery in Harlow and Cambridge, in the U.K. (chemistry and drug discovery advice). The main project activities are currently funded by grants alongside provision of in-kind services, including the chemistry provided by Charles River Early Discovery in the UK as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility scheme and compound screening provided by Reaction Biology. In addition, the M4K group also works with a number of academic collaborators with expertise in the relevant field.