sharing data, molecules and ideas openly – from a wealth of hits to none

Yesterday I was alerted to a discussion around a molecular Craigslist as a way to find people that might have or could make a particular compound of interest to another party/ person. In the ensuing discussion all the usual options were suggested and some very good comments made. This was initially described in the context of the open malaria work going on. Thinking about this it’s pretty applicable to the whole neglected and rare disease research space. Perhaps another approach may be to tweet the structure of the molecule needed with a suitable hashtag #moleculelist or #moleculewanted etc..As the ODDT mobile app is currently following the #malaria hashtag this would be one place such a tweet could be read that is molecule  aware. Anyway just a suggestion because basically this can be done now with minimal effort.

Then it got me thinking. What I have noticed in the TB and malaria realm is there are no shortage of hits…What we have a shortage of is information on those hits as what to follow up on that may be of most value. Certainly the recent Grand challenges in global health explorations in global health, was looking for new ways to interrogate the hits..for malaria. But this is equally applicable to TB and beyond. One of the reasons for not blogging for a while has been writing grants for this and other opportunities (which I am sure I will divulge eventually as papers or on this blog).

On the flip side is the rare disease space which has the other problem, so many diseases, and so few hits. If a rare disease has a target its one thing, to have found hits for it is an altogether different prospect. A great example is MPSIIIC which appears to be a protein folding disease. A paper from 2009 identified one compound glucosamine that was able to rescue some mutants in vitro. This is an example of one potential hit compound but I have found no follow up of this work whether in vitro or in vivo and certainly no large scale screening.

So if I was to request anything from the crowd by twitter, it might be analogs of glucosamine to test in vitro..Several months ago I tweeted the glucosamine structure in ODDT. The next step is we get scientists engaged in helping with diseases they did not know existed and this may just happen through Twitter or tools that tap into it.

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