Heart Failure Breakthrough May Come From "Open Source" Cancer Drug Development: Discoveries

Brie Zeltner | Cleveland.com | August 19, 2013

A newly-discovered cancer drug may be a breakthrough in treating heart failure, thanks to a groundbreaking “open source” approach to drug discovery that allowed a Case Western Reserve University heart specialist free access to the compound for his research.

Most drug research is cloaked in secrecy; the formulas for new compounds are closely- guarded and the scientific community only learns of the potential uses of a new drug once a lab publishes its results. The process of moving a promising compound from bench to bedside can take a decade or more, and finding new applications for a drug may take even longer.

In 2010, Dr. James Bradner, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, decided to test a radically different way of accelerating and improving the process of drug discovery for cancer treatment: “crowd sourcing,” a technique more common to the computer software industry, in which companies make software available free online for consumers and developers to try out and modify.