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Asian Region Makes Use of its Biodiversity to Identify New Bioactive Molecules
Jean-Robert Ioset,
Discovery Coordinator

The Pan-Asian Screening Network (PASN) gathers eight research institutions in Asia and the Pacific region aiming to address the discovery of new molecules to be developed as drugs against neglected diseases. To do so, PASN interacts with a Natural Product Working Group representing several institutions involved in the purification and identification of chemicals from plants, soil, and marine organisms in the region. The two entities have drawn plans to merge into one single self-sustaining platform (PAN4ND) in a near future.

New drugs and diagnostics for neglected diseases are desperately needed: although accounting for 12% of the global disease burden, only 21 out of 1,556 (1.3%) new drugs were specifically developed for neglected diseases over the past 30 years. Several of these drugs are derived from products from natural origin, some of them having been developed in Asian laboratories. The striking examples of artemisinin for the treatment of malaria and of Ivermectin as a cure for river blindness are part of these. The Asian region intends to make use of its impressive potential in terms of biodiversity to identify new bioactive molecules destined to be turned into drugs.
The main activities of PASN focus on training related to drug screening techniques, development of support material such as protocols and manuals, as well as scientific exchange through regular meetings and conferences. Emphasis is put on the harmonisation of state-of-the-art process and assays to screen against protozoa responsible for neglected diseases such as human African trypanosomiasis (also known as sleeping sickness), visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas' disease. This network is financially supported by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, a private Japanese philanthropic foundation and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

More information regarding PASN is available from the network website ( or via contact with Jean-Robert Ioset at DNDi (

Published by Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative - 15 Chemin Louis-Dunant 1202 Geneva Switzerland - Photo credits: DNDi unless otherwise stated - Editor: Sadia Kaenzig - Tel: +41 22 906 9230 - Fax: +41 22 906 9231 -