Crowdsourcing kick spurs interest in NIH drug recycling


Drug recycling offers ways to rapidly advance methods to combat illnesses at a reduced cost. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has capitalized on crowdsourcing to stir up interest in a program to find new uses for old compounds.

As The Pink Sheet reports, the NIH's "crowdsourcing" policy of opening up access to available compounds for repurposing has likely aided its efforts to generate applications from labs that are interested in screening the molecules for potential new uses. The NIH program has drawn more interest than expected, a good thing for the agency's efforts to promote the rescuing of shelved generic compounds and repurposing them.

Drug repositioning is one of the pet projects of NIH's director, Dr. Francis Collins, who has taken to the speaker circuit and appeared on YouTube this year with part of his message focused on the issue. In the process, Collins has championed the drug-repositioning program, administered by the NIH's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, which has a collection of thousands of compounds to fuel such activities.

Drug recycling isn't likely to be as profitable as creating a brand-new therapy from scratch for, say, lung cancer, but the practice could help needy patients with inexpensive therapies. In September, researchers found that an experimental compound that Merck ($MRK) abandoned as a potential treatment for cancer aided patients with an extremely rare aging disease known as progeria.

No one group could reposition all the available drugs by itself, so the NIH has opened up its vast collection of compounds to the research crowd and Collins has brought his message to social media venues like YouTube to catalyze activity. Call it crowdsourcing or just smart program administration.

- here's The Pink Sheet's summary

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