Open Source Drug Discovery

The Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) was introduced by CSIR in 2008 with the aim to develop drugs for the neglected diseases like TB, malaria, and Leishmaniasis in the developing world. The reasons behind its establishment are to provide affordable health care to weaker sections of global population at a time when the pharma companies are not interested in diseases that do not offer large markets. The current drug discovery models are creating monopolies that prevent access to new discoveries. To overcome this, the OSDD works based on the concept of “open source”, where it tries to collaborate the efforts of researchers in academia, research laboratories and industry in discovery of drugs through open access to resources.

The objectives of OSDD as follows: 

  1. Creating a CSIR-led Team India Consortium with international collaboration for drug discovery.
  2. Developing comprehensive systems to generate a comprehensive interaction map of the pathogen (which is ongoing).
  3. In the first phase, develop drugs against Mycobacterium tuberculosis including drug resistant and latent tuberculosis (it is being carried out).
  4. In the second phase, clinical trials will be undertaken.
  5. To develop new drugs available as ‘generic’ drug without intellectual property constraints and available in open.

Achievements of OSDD:

  1. OSDD first targeted on TB. Currently, OSDD has entered into agreement with Global TB Alliance for developing PA-824 in India. A phase 2B clinical trial for a new combination therapy for MDR-TB has been initiated. The trial involves a three arm study using a combination of PA-824, Moxifloxacin, and Pyrazinamide. The new drug combination will be made available at an affordable cost without any royalty.
  2. The open source drug discovery process gained popularity with participation from World Health Organisation, National Institute of Health, Dorabji Tata Trust, etc. Along with funding from government of India, Dorabji Tata Trust has awarded grants for CSIR-OSDD Fellowship program.
  3. One of the important achievements is leveraging the potential of crowd sourcing to reannotation of the genome of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It has been the largest crowd sourced activity till now and has been successful in actively involving the Indian student community at large.
  4. OSDD has successfully created a chemical library at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) that can be used by anybody. OSDD provided easily accessible open resources like OSDDChem at CISR-CDRI and Open Screening Facility at CSIR-IICT.
  5. Another important achievement is building in-silico computational model of M-TB where 1,152 reactions involving 890 genes i.e. one-fourth of the mTB gene with 961 metabolites are we computationally modelled in computer.
  6. OSDD is also working on developing a system biology based computer modelling of an organism by which one can identify new ways of drug targets which are non-toxic.

In silico Research

If research was carried out only on paper with no practical experiments, it is “in papyro“, only in papers. In silico is also equivalent to in papyro; only difference is that it is performed on computer or via computer simulation. This term has become of high importance in Drug discovery in recent times. With reference to lab science, in silico are the biological experiments essentially carried out entirely in a computer. There are many in silico techniques. Three most important are Bacterial sequence techniques, Molecular modelling and whole cell simulations.

OSDD has now emerged as a global platform for discovery of drugs. As the drug delivery is long process involving 10-15 years, the success of OSDD depends on the long-term support from the government.