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[afro-nets] Drug firm boost to malaria fight

Drug firm boost to malaria fight

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to reveal previously 
confidential data on thousands of potential anti-malaria compounds.

In addition to this, the company is to pump millions into an 'Open Lab' for 
independent research teams.

The company has 13,500 molecules which have been tested against the parasite 
which causes malaria.

One expert said more sharing of data could trigger advances like those that 
came from the human genome project.

The way in which pharmaceutical firms guard the secrets of their drugs and 
research has long been cited as an obstacle to disease research.

The latest announcement by GSK chief executive Andrew Witty, follows an earlier 
decision to set up a "patent pool" where information about patented drugs could 
be shared.

In a speech in New York, he said that it was important to "earn the trust" of 
society.

"The measures we have announced today are characterized by a determination to 
be more flexible, open and willing to learn.

"GSK has the capability to make a difference and a genuine appetite to change 
the landscape of healthcare for the world's poorest people."

Millions scanned

The data in question is the result of a year's effort by GSK scientists to 
study a disease which still claims almost a million lives a year, mainly in 
sub-Saharan Africa.

The company holds a "library" of millions of different molecules, and each of 
these was tested against the Plasmodium parasite which causes malaria.

The result was 13,500 which appeared to have an effect on it, although 
extensive further research would be needed to narrow down this list into those 
most likely to succeed as new drugs.

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