India recently launched a unique collaborative programme to discover drugs for infectious diseases common to the developing countries. The ‘Open Source Drug Discovery’ (OSDD) programme, launched by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), aims to build a consortium of global researchers and bypass the patent regime, which makes drugs expensive. To begin with OSDD, a brainchild of CSIR Director General Samir K. Brahmachari, has taken up research on discovering new drugs for treatment of tuberculosis, a field in which no major advancement in treatment has emerged since 1960. “The normal process of drug discovery, through the patent regime, has not worked very well for diseases in our part of the world,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here. Inspired by open source movements like Linux and the human genome sequencing project, OSDD seeks to expand resources for research manifold by allowing collaboration among voluntary researchers. CSIR has set up a website – – as a platform for collaborative research, data on pathogens, tools for data analysis, and discussion forum for members to share ideas and projects for students to participate in drug discovery. Laboratory experiments during this process will be carried at CSIR-sponsored centres. CSIR has earmarked INR 150 crore for the OSDD project under the 11th Plan and an equivalent amount of funding is expected to be raised from international agencies and philanthropists.

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