Reinventing the wheel with web3, drug research edition


Martin Shkreli is again to his entrepreneurial methods, simply a few months after his launch from jail.

Shkreli introduced on Monday that he’s launching a web3 platform known as Druglike. This isn’t a drug firm, thoughts you – he’s banned from the pharmaceutical industry – however an open-source platform for drug research, in accordance with a press launch:

Druglike is constructing a decentralised computing community which gives sources for anybody trying to begin or contribute to early-stage drug discovery tasks. Unlike rivals, Druglike can be web-based and utterly free to make use of. Druglike will quickly launch a web-based suite for goal identification, drug design, and instruments for each establishing and operating large-scale digital screening workflows.

Open-source medical research platforms exist already, in fact. 

For instance, one platform known as VirtualFlow was used for a 2020 paper in Nature, the place a staff of teachers “prepared one of the largest and freely available ready-to-dock ligand libraries, with more than 1.4bn commercially available molecules.” A fast (and we hope not flawed) survey of the web helps us guess that ligands bind to proteins with the intention to target particular pharmaceutical therapies, and docking is a modelling technique to foretell how ligands and proteins will bind. 

Its white paper references the Nature experiment in the bolded part under:

Other screens of comparable measurement run on cloud-provisioned {hardware}, usually utilizing tens of 1000’s of CPU cores for a number of days at a time… On-premises supercomputers are additionally used for operating large-scale digital screening pipelines… These large-scale screening tasks require both particular discounted offers with cloud compute suppliers, or prioritized tutorial entry to excessive efficiency computing (HPC) sources. Smaller research teams might run screens on commodity cloud computing sources, however the revenue margins on specialised, cloud-provisioned {hardware} often constrain the measurement of the display.

Druglike makes use of ligand docking as the instance in its white paper. What units it aside from VirtualFlow, from what we will inform, is that they add a heap of web3 to the combine, alongside with some decentralised computing. The whitepaper describes ligand-docking modelling as an optimisation drawback, and says the venture creates a brand new protocol known as “Proof-of-Optimisation” – mainly proof-of-work for function-optimisation issues – for verification. 

We will confess we don’t at the moment have the data-science chops to independently consider how reasonable this proposal is. 

But relating to decentralised computing, we did catch a whitepaper reference to Folding@residence, a decentralised venture the place common individuals can donate computing energy to assist college labs run protein-folding simulations. 

Folding@residence groups supply totally different “rewards” for participation, however there doesn’t seem like an ordinary for what rewards are used. In different phrases, there may realistically be zero cryptocurrency involvement in any respect. In early 2019, Folding@residence published a cryptocurrency policy that claims that outright: 

In gentle of current discussions inside the Folding@residence group regarding our relationship to cryptocurrencies, we wish to take this chance to make an official assertion. Folding@residence doesn’t endorse any cryptocurrencies at the moment however we’re comfortable to interact with individuals with all kinds of motivations. Whether you’re concerned with curing ailments, advancing our understanding of how the world works, seeing who can construct the quickest laptop, or incomes cryptocurrency. There’s a protracted historical past of individuals in Folding@residence creating third occasion purposes that improve the group, and we see cryptocurrencies as falling on this class. Our insurance policies will at all times be dictated by the science that’s the basis of Folding@residence, however sustaining a stage of consistency that incentivizes everybody to proceed collaborating in the venture is a excessive precedence.

On boards for brand new and volunteers, one post from October 2021 comes from a person saying that they heard “this thing doubles as a dogecoin miner,” and asking “how do I get doge out of FaH, and how do I join a team?”

We can also’t assist however discover that Druglike’s press launch is adopted by a “safe harbour” assertion, simply in case the tokens deliberate by the platform are deemed to be securities. Shkreli can also be banned from serving as an officer or director of public corporations, to make certain, so the whitepaper features a disclaimer that claims “if and when Druglike makes . . . an offering in the United States, the offering likely will be available solely to accredited investors.”

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