4. Drug Discovery: Benefits of using open resources

(This video can be downloaded from Media Hopper Create.)

What are the key benefits of your work at Parkure?

The primary and key benefit that Parkure aims to bring to society will be relieving the symptoms, and eventually curing Parkinson’s disease.

However, Lysimachos sees Parkure as an integral part of a much larger community of endeavour. This makes the role of contributing to the body of knowledge around Parkinson’s of significant importance. The practice of using and contributing to open resources is key in this. Publishing openly improves visibility, which in turn helps with scrutiny and leads to improvement in the body of knowledge. The scrutiny of the community can only help Parkure in its aims. So it is important that the process of using and sharing open research and other open resources is a part of the culture at Parkure.

As a commercial company, care must be taken that nothing that is commercially sensitive is published. Parkure has internal processes to establish if the information I commercially sensitive before they begin the process of sharing back.

Do you share back, and what are the processes?

In Drug Discovery there are well-established and mature processes you can follow to share back information using online resources and services associated with organisations such as PubMed and MedLine. Science publishing is largely automated by large online publishers, and outputs are mainly in the form of scholarly articles, but also includes datasets.  Services include the extraction of specific data from the abstract and indexing online to make your articles discoverable. People working in this area tend to be very familiar with these processes.

Parkure is happy to share datasets and information that is not commercially sensitive. This means that they follow an internal review process to establish whether or not the information is useful for commercialisation within their own company before sharing. Any data that is not commercially sensitive will be published using online services.

What about Software?

Putting code online is best practice using a resource like GitHub so that the source code is available for scrutiny, improvement and so that others can adapt it and use for their purposes.

However the modifications that Parkure makes to their software and open source tools is so specific to their needs that it is unlikely to be of interest to other companies. So, they do not share their software by default. However, they would share software tools if a third party (perhaps a member of the community) that was not a direct competitor approached them with a request.  

Are open resources important to the business community?

By using open resources and putting them to use commercially you allow them to improve. Resources and tools are only theoretical until they are put into use in the real world, where they will become user focussed. Commercial application of any open source tool or open resource has always sharpened it. By using open resources you not only tap into a large body of knowledge and users, but you are actually improving the tools and resources themselves.