Chemist's Crusade For Open-Source Cancer Research

Robert McMillan | WIred UK | September 26, 2014

Isaac Yonemoto is a chemist, but he's been writing software code since he was a kid. He calls himself a "semi-recreational" programmer, and now, he's running an experiment that combines this sideline with his day job. In short, he's using open source software techniques to kickstart the world of cancer research.

Patent-free and crowd-funded by the bitcoin digital currency, Yonemoto's project seeks to resurrect work on a promising anti-cancer compound called 9-deoxysibiromycin, or 9-DS. Early tests indicated it could provide a treatment for melanoma, kidney cancer, and breast cancer, but then, for various reasons, research on the compound was abandoned. So Yonemoto stepped in and restarted the project online, as if it was an open source software project, raising money for additional research through an online fundraising campaign.

Although the stakes are different, Yonemoto compares his gambit to previous efforts to resurrect abandoned video games such as the classic versions of Command and Conquer --  one of his favourites. "Here we have this abandonware compound," he says, "and open-sourcing is a way of resurrecting abandonware."...