Case Studies/GlaxoSmithKline

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GSK, GlaxoSmithKline, malaria, disease


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GlaxoSmithKline is a major pharmaceutical company that has surrendered all copyrights in its malarial data set, which includes more than 13,500 compounds known to be active against malaria.

Providing access to this level of information sees GSK set what I would hope to be a new trend that could revolutionise the urgent search for new medicines to tackle malaria. By sharing data, we start to build up a public database of knowledge that should be as powerful as the human genome databases. — Timothy Wells, Chief Scientific Officer of the Medicines for Malaria Venture (


One of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world, GlaxoSmithKline has surrendered all copyrights in its malarial data set, which includes more than 13,500 compounds known to be active against malaria. The data set is called Tres Cantos Antimalarial (TCAMS), and is available from the ChEMBL-NTD database, "a repository for Open Access primary screening and medicinal chemistry data directed at neglected diseases - endemic tropical diseases of the developing regions of the Africa, Asia, and the Americas."

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GlaxoSmithKline has surrendered all copyright in its malaria data set under the CC0 public domain dedication.


From GSK's

"By making this information publicly available, GSK hopes that many other scientists will review this information and analyse the data faster than we could on our own. Hopefully, this will lead to additional research that could help drive the discovery of new medicines. We would also encourage other groups, including academics and pharmaceutical companies, to make their own compounds and related information publicly available.

This is essentially an example of ‘open source’ being applied to drug discovery. We know that data increases in value when connected with other data and that the more eyes looking at a problem, the more potential solutions may arise."

Research and development (R&D) for diseases prevalent in the developing world are costly and time-consuming and carry less return on investment than R&D for diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, which have a market in the developed world. Since malaria is a disease that primarily affects the developing world, GSK has released malarial data in order to speed the process of R&D, while providing resources that nonprofits and academic institutions don't necessarily have wide access to, such as advanced technologies, facilities for medicinal drug discovery, and manufacturing and distribution expertise. For more information, see GSK's 2009 report on


Nature - GlaxoSmithKline goes public with malaria data
The Guardian - Glaxo offers free access to potential malaria cures
GSK's commitment to fighting Malaria
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press release