Is open source the future of pharma and med tech, or an anomaly?

September 18, 2017 – 6:16 PM | By Katie Pfaff | No comments yet

smart doctor hand working with modern laptop computer in modern office with virtual icon diagramTechnology seems to leap ahead at an astounding pace and is disruptive for many businesses, but is achingly slow for patients who await disease detection and treatments.
A recent TED Radio Hour, “Fighting Cancer,” included speakers who addressed their approaches to speeding the move toward more precise and faster-acting cancer diagnostics and targeted therapies.
James Bradner of Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and president of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, was part of a research team which shared the molecule they discovered to treat a rare form of cancer publicly. The normal steps after research of protecting the information and developing proprietary therapies based on that data, was shirked to share the chemical formula for the molecule and to open it to research teams worldwide. At the time of the TED talk, about 40 labs had taken up the offer and were working with the molecule.
There are numerous examples of groups which have opened up their research findings, or which seek to collaborate on projects. Open Source Imaging is an initiative seeking to build MR scanners mainly or completely comprised of “open source components.” The group plans to reduce costs and increase access to imaging technology, particularly in areas across the globe where access is limited.
Is this an anomaly in the med-tech field, or a trend that is gaining traction? It will be interesting to see if more open source groups crop up, and how those open source firms fare in the  med-tech research space.


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