In June 2010, the “Scientists Against Malaria” collaboration was formed to apply
modern drug design and modelling techniques in combination with industry standard infrastructure and interdisciplinary science to develop new treatments against Malaria. The group’s first project assembles a number of leading academic researchers together with smaller innovative companies who are collaborating to develop novel inhibitors active against the Plasmodium parasite.
SAM was created by the InnovationWell Neglected Diseases Collaboration Pool as a virtual drug discovery organization to collaborate on the design of kinase inhibitors against the Plasmodium Malarial parasite. Work activities have included target selection and modelling, protein expression and assay development, computational drug design, and screening. Supported by developments on the EU FP7 funded SYNERGY and OpenTox projects, a combination of interoperable information systems, ontologies and web services were designed and deployed to manage the data, documents, computational and assay results, activity and toxicology predictions, as well as dashboards to track project progress and to support decision making. We will discuss our results, experiences and lessons learned to date, and future directions and opportunities for collaborative drug design based on our virtual organization approach.
The collaborative work is being carried out by a Virtual Organisation (VO) of partners with a combination of scientific competencies and supporting resources. In addition to experimental laboratory and screening facilities, work activities are supported by advanced software systems including a collaborative electronic laboratory notebook, newly developed event-driven collaboration services from the FP7 ICT supported SYNERGY project (www.synergy-ist.eu), predictive toxicology services from the FP7 Health supported OpenTox project (www.opentox.org), and a variety of drug design and modelling software being used by partners, as shown schematically in the illustration below.