Open and collaborative R&D
To deliver treatments as efficiently as possible
DNDi’s open and collaborative approach to R&D – driven by patient needs, not profits – serves as a practical illustration of how alternatives to the prevailing system of commercial R&D can be organized and implemented, and how they can deliver for people in need.
To ensure both innovation and affordable access to new and improved treatments, DNDi’s collaborative R&D model draws on the assets, capacities, and expertise of our partners at all stages of the R&D process and aims to promote the broadest possible sharing of research knowledge and data across the innovation lifecycle.
Pharmaceutical companies have vast, well-curated libraries of novel, proprietary drug-like compounds built up over decades of research into various disease areas. They also have access to state-of-the-art (and often proprietary) algorithms and computational approaches for assessing chemical ‘similarity’ between molecules. These resources are usually closely guarded and not shared externally – certainly not between competitors.
To speed up early-stage research and reduce overall R&D costs, DNDi works to enable research actors to actively collaborate without the restraints of intellectual property, supporting and coordinating a number of open innovation collaborations , including the NTD Drug Development Booster, Mycetoma Open Source project (MycetOS), and Open Synthesis Network (OSN).
Our call for change
DNDi advocates for public and philanthropic research funders to apply standards and incentive mechanisms that promote open approaches to R&D and aim from the start to deliver affordable products efficiently.
‘In 15 years, DNDi has developed successful collaborative approaches, from early research through to patient access, and we can learn from their achievements – such as the delivery of the first oral treatment for sleeping sickness … and their global collaborations exchanging expertise worldwide.’
Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization
Sustainable innovation ecosystems
Partnership is the cornerstone the DNDi model, which integrates capabilities from academia, public research institutions, NGOs and other PDPs, governments, and pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Our collaboration with a global network of more than 200 partners has helped to attract additional researchers to neglected fields, enable more and different results, and accelerate the R&D process by reducing duplication and making R&D activities more efficient and less expensive.
DNDi’s experience has also shown that proximity to the needs of affected communities and patients is critical and can only be achieved through building trusting and equal partnerships with local clinicians, scientists, experts, and patient and community/civil society groups in affected countries.
DNDi established and supports five disease-specific clinical research platforms and networks in low- and middle-income countries to:
- leverage and strengthen existing research capacity;
- facilitate needs definition;
- promote scientific exchange; and
- enable access and delivery of new tools
These ‘knowledge hubs’ maximize worldwide collaborations and form an integral part of DNDi’s model.
Our call for change
DNDi advocates for public and philanthropic research funders to develop clear policies that encourage sharing of data, knowledge, and costs at each stage of the R&D process in order to make R&D effective, efficient, and responsive to public health needs – and to ensure equitable access to new innovations for all people in need.
Contributing to scientific knowledge by sharing data collected through clinical trials – whether positive or negative – plays a critical role in advancing science to improve the lives of neglected patients whose needs are often overlooked in research.
In 2017, DNDi adopted a policy on the Sharing of Clinical Trial Data and signed on to the WHO Joint Statement on Public Disclosure of Results from Clinical Trials. DNDi has also committed itself to registering all trials in a publicly available register, such as the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinicaltrials.gov or the Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry, promptly reporting results within 12 months after completion of trials, and publishing findings in open access journals.
DNDi also partners with the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) to bring together the global visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas disease research communities to assemble clinical, laboratory and epidemiological data. The collaboration plays a critical role in pooling and standardizing data generated through trials to improve understanding of clinical outcomes and guide the design of future research.
Our call for change
DNDi advocates for partnership and support that leverage and enhance existing R&D capacity in LMICs to address national, regional, and global health priorities and ensure the needs of the most vulnerable are met. Achieving this goal requires national and regional political leadership and financing, as well as the active participation of affected populations, medical and scientific communities, and civil society.
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