Project Marilyn, an Open Source Cancer Research

When I was looking for more information about peer production and open source, I came across a very interesting article. This article is about a project to fight cancer. Did you know that one out of three people will get cancer in their lifetime?

Isaac Yonemoto came up with a solution. This solution is the development of unpatented drugs. These drugs should be sold by pharmaceutical companies for a reasonable price, so that these drugs will become accessible to everyone. The open source software and industry has already proved that patents are not necessary for innovation. Without patent, the drugs are less expensive and it is easier to develop better drugs.

This video will tell you briefly what the project is about:

The Marilyn Project

Marilyn Project is an open source project for developing a cure for cancer. This drug is patent free. You can support this research by donating money or bitcoins. A xenograft experiment will be funded with this money. Xenograft means the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. Yonemoto can further develop the promising anti-cancer compound 9DS because of this xenograft experiment. This experiment needs to be completed before 9DS can move on to clinical trials. All the data is published online on the site


9DS was developed by Barbare Gerratana, a researcher at the University of Maryland. When she took a job at National Institute of Health, she was unable to continue her work. Because she had already published her research without any patent, big pharmaceutical companies were unlikely to sponsor it. However, this unpatented work does have an advantage. Because it was never patented, this work is now in the public domain. Now anyone can work on it, as in open source software. Yonemoto came across this research and continued her work.


The plan of Yonemoto is to spend the donations on scientific expenses such as materials to produce 9DS. You can see the total budget on the site ( Anyone can donate through money or bitcoins, but also by buying gifts like a coffee mug or t-shirt. It is a type of crowdfunding. Today (18 October 2014) the counter is $ 33.519 of $ 50.000. There are 10 days left.

The question is whether this project will really work. What do you think? Will Yonemoto get the required budget? Or do you think people do not want to donate to an open source project? Would you like to donate yourself? In addition, do you think open source projects like this really work? Let me know!



One thought on “Project Marilyn, an Open Source Cancer Research

  1. It is very interesting to see how open source platforms and collaborations can affect any industry, even the pharmaceutical one. Similar to the InnoCentive case, it is a great idea to combine the knowledge of experts from several domains in order to create the most suitable and accurate solution, which in this case would be the cure for cancer.

    However, I do not think I would donate money on the project Marilyn. There is no evidence that the method will actually work. Especially for me, someone who knows nothing about medicine, donating money on this is comparable to gambling in a Casino. You don’t know the odds.
    Who knows whether they are not working on the exact same problem at another research university, or whether there are experts who have already proven that it does not work? SInce their information needs to be kept private, there is too much uncertainty for non-experts to donate money.

    On the other hand, the project could work if other researchers in the same field recognize what the project could mean and thus support it! But, then again, considering the competition, why not steal the idea as it is not even patented?

    It is a very interesting but difficult case and there is no one solution or argument that proves that this open source method will be effective or not. BUt, considering the circumstances (that she was not able to patent but make the project public), I think this is the most suitable way to deal with it and continue the research! Therefore, though I would not donate, I love the idea!

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