Dr Sarala Balachandran, project director, OSDD
Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) - the pet project of Prof. Samir K Brahmachari, former director general (DG), was launched on September 2008. It introduced the concept of ‘open source' to drug discovery, for the first time ever. Launched with the motto of ‘affordable healthcare', OSDD tried to collectively aggregate the skills of researchers in academia, research laboratories, and industry to discover drugs particularly targeting neglected diseases.
OSDD describes its objectives as follows:
• To create a CSIR-led Team India Consortium with international collaboration to lead an open source drug discovery program.
• To develop a novel comprehensive systems biology approach to generate a comprehensive interaction map of the pathogen (ongoing).
• To discover and develop New Chemical Entities (NCEs) for Mycobacterium tuberculosis including drug resistant and latent tuberculosis. (First phase activity being carried out).
• In the second phase, clinical trials will be undertaken.
• To make the new drug available as a ‘generic' drug without IP constraints, available in the open, so that the industry anywhere in the world could manufacture and distribute, ensuring that the drug reaches patients at affordable prices.
On its seventh anniversary, we analyse how many of its objectives have been achieved.
Disease like TB, malaria, and Leishmaniasis etc., are poor man's diseases, thus there is no return on investment for pharma companies to invest in it, so are generally avoided by these companies. There is need for alternative strategies for discovering new drugs outside the pharma industry, with this objective and with the motto of affordable healthcare, CSIR launched OSDD program.
OSDD first targeted the TB because of its high mortality rate. India is also dubbed as TB capital of the world claiming 1,000 lives daily and no new drugs have been discovered for the past several decades. OSDD tried to bring research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to the open sky so that researches across the world can share and collaborate, for finding the solution to this deadly disease. Towards this, a, Phase II B clinical trial for a new combination regimen for MDR-TB has been initiated.