The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that proactive antiviral development is key to reducing the challenges of ongoing and future public health crises. However, current research models do not encourage treatment development for viral diseases that may never exist on a large scale, because there is no market. Annette von Delft, Translational Scientist at the University of Oxford and Project Manager at COVID Moonshot, a crowdsourced, machine learning project with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), discusses why Open Science is necessary to foster effective and globally accessible antivirals research.
How can Open Science help tackle challenges in antiviral research?
The potential for return on investment for antivirals and antibiotics remains low. This is particularly relevant when considering drugs for pandemic preparedness, where a virus may not hit for a long time – or antibiotic resistance, where back-up compounds will only be used as a last resort. Here, Open Science offers a unique opportunity to explore alternative routes to market not focusing on return on investment, but on developing public goods to secure public health in the future.
What drew you to Open Science?
I strongly believe that Open Data has the potential to greatly accelerate downstream drug discovery and development. I am excited about the frameshift in early discovery that has been enabled through the groundbreaking work by the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), and aim to contribute to Open Science approaches in lead optimization and pre-clinical development. The unique development data packages that are – and will be – released by the COVID Moonshot are a unique resource that may be used by academics, pharma, and biotech alike.
What have you found most exciting about your Open Science Journey? What’s next?
The most exciting part of the Open Science journey of the COVID Moonshot is the enthusiasm of all our collaborators to participate in this unprecedented effort. Overall, performing Open Science early discovery projects is now common. However, bringing a drug from early discovery to the clinic in the open remains a difficult journey. In particular, securing a market authorization holder for a non-patented drug is challenging, and the COVID Moonshot is very excited to work closely with the experts at DNDi on this topic. Our main ambition is to bring the novel SARS-CoV-2 to the clinic. In the long term, we are exploring follow-on projects focussing on antiviral pandemic preparedness to utilize our newly-established Open Science discovery and development platform.
Join the discussion! Annette von Delft will be at the Neuro Open Science in Action Symposium: Open Science and Antivirals session at 10:15 a.m. EST on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.