NCATs repurposing efforts – the story continues

It seems not a week goes by without some mention of the NCATS library of industry provided reagents in the media. I have blogged about this previously and initially I called for us to petition them due to the lack of structures. Honestly I think there should have been someone at NCATS that took a stand and said this is just plain wrong (even if it upset the big pharmas) – you are asking for scientists to submit grants on molecules to repurpose them knowing only the molecule identifier. Hello, this is 58 molecules and by some estimates there are tens of thousands of similar compounds on the shelf.

So in recent weeks I have been contacted by journalists that were writing about repurposing and obviously what a few of us (Chris Southan) have been blogging about. I declined because of the misrepresentation as always “the contrarian viewpoint in C&E and Nature interviews” (someone please teach these folks that because you have a viewpoint that does not tow the  government line, it is an opinion, do not set them up as having marginal views etc – what happened to balanced reporting?).

I declined a recent Nature interview (after the reporter emailed mentioning the discussion of NCATS on the blogosphere), instead I pointed her to Chris Southan. He had a 40 min interview, she obviously used some of his information but did not cite him…and I quote from the article “Chemists are grumbling about a different issue: the companies have not released the structures of the 58 compounds (although the programme’s winners will learn the structures of their compounds). ” “Roughly 30,000 drugs have been shelved by the pharmaceutical industry over the past three decades”

I also declined the recent C&E news article which did not even mention the NCATS lack of structures.

Without wishing to sound repetitive, any of the journalists out there could have quoted these blogs as legitimate concerns about the effort. With all due respect it is appreciated but do we really need someone else as the mouthpiece… talking about transparency and I quote from the Nature interview ..”That has led to a “tremendous waste of effort” for chemists trying to deduce any new activities that the compounds might have, says Jeremy Berg, former director of the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences in Bethesda, and now a computational and systems biologist at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.”  I agree and disagree, someone has to do it initially (identify the structures) but does anyone that wants the compounds have to repeat it time and time again..We have no axe to grind but if our own government cannot help the many tens of thousands of people with rare diseases by simply persuading pharmas to release 58 molecule structures what hope do we have of convincing them?

I am optimistic the structures will one day by accessible on the NCATS site. It just may take some doing..




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