Open Lab tackles neglected diseases

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical industries, announced a new corporate strategy to foster open innovation. This program is built around three main projects. The Open Lab, a new part of one of the company’s research centres, will give 60 scientists the opportunity to work on tropical neglected diseases and freely share knowledge. GSK will also make public a database of 13.500 molecules they developed and that could eventually lead to new treatments for malaria. Finally, GSK will give to an independent party the governance over a ‘knowledge pool’ related to tropical diseases, in order to share its intellectual property.

This is not the first time GSK uses open innovation schemas. Last year GSK established a patent pool of drugs and processes for neglected diseases, and during his last speech its CEO Andrew Witty told the press that “Since I took over at GSK I have been focused on changing the business model for the company to improve performance. But equally important is the imperative to earn the trust of society, not just by meeting expectations, but by exceeding them”.

Nature‘s editorial points out the fact that “neglected diseases are a low-risk area for drug companies to experiment with open data” but it recognises the value of this policies and even urges universities – and their often aggressive intellectual property policies – to emulate GlaxoSmithKline.

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