Could Open Source Principles Revolutionize Drug Development?

by Ostatic Staff - Feb. 24, 2012

Here at OStatic, we've chronicled many examples of open source principles being applied to exotic types of projects, including some projects that combine software and hardware goals, and some that are purely hardware-focused. For example, we've covered the DIY projects you can take on via the Arduino open source hardware effort, and numerous examples of open source robotics projects. Now, a startup company is applying open source principles to, of all things, drug development. Transparency Life Sciences may have a shot at invoving patients in drug development in unprecedented ways, and could usher in innovative ways to speed up the clinical trials process.

If you follow the current state of drug development at all, you know that it is bogged down with a great deal of time-consuming regulatory friction. In addition, though, it is driven by scientists and doctors, not by patients.

According to a statement from Transparency Life Sciences:

"Transparency Life Sciences is the world’s first drug development company based on open innovation. Our goal is to develop medicines for significant unmet medical needs by acquiring promising drug compounds, designing studies via crowdsourced methods, and conducting those clinical studies with unmatched productivity."

The company was even inspired by Linux, and the community development that drives Linux along. According to an Xconomy post:

"[Tomasz] Sablinski and his company, Transparency Life Sciences, rolled out the beta version of a virtual community of physicians, scientists, and patients whose input is helping the company develop three drugs. The site (, which is being managed by a handful of staff members in New York City and Boston, has only been live for a few weeks. But it has already attracted about 30 patients, who have been actively trading notes about their experiences and making suggestions for clinical trials, Sablinski says."

There is significant promise for this kind of effort. Transparency Life Sciences will eventually have to seek the FDA's permission to conduct clinical trials on its experimental drugs, and that could result in some friction, but the actual development of the drugs is crowdsourced and closely aligned with patients' needs.

You can register and become part of Transparency Life Sciences' community, participating fully in steering new drugs to fruition. The company's site also includes active forums where you can start working with other community members.