Open source pharma?

On Friday night, after a game of football at which my participation might be described as ‘occasional’, I met Ms 73man in the city centre to meet up with two friends of hers. I ordered something smaller to eat as they had met earlier and eaten and finished, and squeezed into the corner of the table. I got talking to the man in this couple, who I had not met before, and in the space of about 20 minutes I not only learned that he spends his time between Dubai, Dublin and the east coast of the US but that at the moment there are 800 skyscrapers being constructed in Dubai. 800! I mean how many middle class Irish couples are they expecting exactly??

This man, Mohsen Marefat, is also one of the founders of the International Drug Discovery Institute, which despite sounding like an organisation straight out of a David Cronenburg script, is an

independent non-profit foundation focused on delivering cures for priority diseases on a sustainable basis.

Apart from the diseases that the large pharma organisations are trying to ‘cure’, you know, diseases of the wealthy like heart disease, there is also an additional problem: money. Mohsen told me that drugs for these diseases are so expensive because of the development costs involved. The IDDI is trying to use networks of laboratories across the world to develop amenable and accessible treatments for the less sexy diseases: malaria, TB and toxoplasmosis. They are also trying to leverage the development of treatments for diseases which are not economically viable for the big guys. More details here.

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