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Transparency Life Sciences
February 24, 2012 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Transparency Life Sciences is a startup drug development company trying to design clinical trials via an open source approach.

Initially, they plan on investigating applications of generic drugs already on the market to treating diseases for which they weren't originally sold. I'd presume most pharmaceutical companies avoid acknowledging that existing generic drugs treat diseases, preferring patentable modifications instead.
posted by jeffburdges (11 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very neat - reminds me of the crowdsourced research done through DIYgenomics. There's an interview here regarding crowd-sourced research.

A related article in Nature Medicine.
posted by exogenous at 11:27 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do they plan on getting investors, without IP to license or a product that someone else can step in and commercialize without risk? (That's usually how biotech startups can keep money coming in, to do research.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is this "open source"? It sounds like they're just doing some surveys.
posted by demiurge at 11:37 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see this take off, especially since members of various fields related to drug development notoriously don't communicate particularly well. I wonder if the larger pharmas might not see transparency as a threat to profitability, though.

Imagine if Chris Lipinski's Rule of Five discovery had been blocked from publication by Pfizer, as an effort to help them get a proverbial leg up on the competition. It's not outside the realm of possibility. The drug discovery field would look very, very different today. And the public would be all the poorer for it.
posted by zarq at 11:42 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why they think patients have the expertise to design clinical trials.
posted by juliapangolin at 12:04 PM on February 24, 2012


I agree with BP. It sounds like a lovely way to maybe come up with some ideas, but where are they getting the money to actually run the trials once they've designed them?

I'd presume most pharmaceutical companies avoid acknowledging that existing generic drugs treat diseases, preferring patentable modifications instead.

I would imagine most pharmaceudical companies would be perfectly happy to repackage a generic in a new capsule and mark it up heavily to sell for a new purpose. Not ton mention the advertising budget they have to push for their non-generic version of the generic. (You can buy all the facial tissues and Hydrox you like, you aren't putting Kleenex and Oreos out of business and they'll happily appropriate your new ideas).
posted by maryr at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why they think patients have the expertise to design clinical trials.

Seconded. I can only hope that this is bad science reporting in action, and not at all a true representation of the project.

Designing a trial is an enormous effort. It's very unclear what the approach is going to be here.
posted by odinsdream at 12:53 PM on February 24, 2012


I don't understand why they think patients have the expertise to design clinical trials.

I don't understand how this process won't inevitably invite a swarm of cranks and snake-oil peddlers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on February 24, 2012


Or medicines that aren't terribly effective but don't cause dry mouth or headaches either.

(I suppose that might be the same thing.)
posted by maryr at 1:40 PM on February 24, 2012


I would imagine most pharmaceudical companies would be perfectly happy to repackage a generic in a new capsule and mark it up heavily to sell for a new purpose.

In particular, extended-release versions of drugs seem to be relatively easy to make and to patent, and while you might not make very much compared to a drug with no OTC version, the XR version would be a very safe bet in clinical trials (where, optimistically, 90% of drug candidates fail). It seems like that should be pretty low-hanging fruit.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:28 PM on February 24, 2012


There are plenty of deep-pocket institutions with a strong financial incentive to see more generics approved through clinical trials: Kaiser and other HMOs, state local governments, the feds, and health insurance companies.

The problem isn't money; it's finding a mechanism, and battling political efforts to stop this.
posted by msalt at 5:12 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


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