Friday, 28 October 2011

Open Source Drug Discovery: And now the target is malaria and its resistance to drugs

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: College and university students can now contribute
their ideas to find a viable medical solution to the ever-increasing
problem of malaria and its resistance to drugs. Even ordinary citizens
can participate in the new initiative launched by the Council of
Scientific and Industrial Research to combat malaria through search
for new drugs.

The CSIR has taken up malaria research under open domain after
achieving considerable success in its fight against tuberculosis and
development of new molecules to treat multi-drug resistant TB.
Incidentally, non-biologists contributed a lot to the sequencing of
the TB bacterial genome. Malaria is the second neglected disease in
the country to be thrown open to the general public besides scientists
for research on anti-malarial drugs.

All one has to do is to participate in the Open Source Drug Discovery
by sending innovative ideas and drug and disease information on
malaria by an email to malariaosdd@gmail.com. The CSIR has made
research and drug development on neglected diseases open to the common
man in a bid to bring down the cost of development of new drugs, which
will benefit the poorer section of society.

"Malaria ranks among top infectious diseases. Falciparum malaria,
which was once rare, is now becoming common here. Even the so-called
ordinary malaria - vivax malaria - has become resistant to drugs. Open
source drug discovery is a welcome step as it involves innumerable
brains," said senior physician Dr Aftab Ahmed of Apollo Hospitals. "We
are now going in for a combination drug therapy to fight the disease,"
he added.

Malaria poses an immense challenge to those engaged in the search for
new drugs against the disease. The growing resistance of the malaria
parasite to currently used anti-malarial drugs coupled with its
complex life cycle necessitates the search for new drugs through
efforts that bring together diverse capabilities across the world,
points out the CSIR document on malaria OSDD.

The CSIR is also targeting people, who have a thorough knowledge of
traditional and forest medicine, for lead discovery. It also calls for
the development of new drug combinations for control of drug resistant
parasites and safer gametocytocidal, prophylactic and anti-relapse
agents.

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