GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the not-for-profit organization, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), today announced a collaborative research effort targeting neglected tropical diseases which disproportionately affect the developing world.
Research will focus on compounds that may have activity against the most neglected diseases of visceral leishmaniasis (kala azar), human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and Chagas disease.
The collaboration, which has been established for an initial period of two years and may be extended, will focus on identifying and developing compounds from existing GSK programs and will leverage the expertise of researchers from GSK at its Tres Cantos facility along with leading academic centres like the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
The collaboration has been formed to specifically address unmet patient needs as current treatments for these diseases have significant drawbacks, such as difficulty of administration, severe side effects, length of treatment, cost, and emerging parasitic resistance.
“This agreement marks our efforts to strengthen our commitment to work on neglected diseases, and we are optimistic that this program will provide innovative projects against leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease,” said Bernard Pecoul, Executive Director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative. “With agreements such as these, we are catalysing worldwide neglected diseases research and are giving hope to the hundreds of thousands of patients who unacceptably die or suffer from these neglected diseases.”
“We hope this and similar alliances serve as a model for future drug development for neglected diseases,” said Dr. Federico M Gomez de las Heras, Vice President of the Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery (ID CEDD) at GSK. “GSK is uniquely placed to play a leading role in the research and development of medicines to fight diseases of the developing world, with a dedicated drug discovery unit within our R&D organization to maximize efforts in this area.”
Notes for editors
About neglected tropical diseases
Tropical diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, Chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), dengue fever, and schistomiasis continue to cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. These disabling and/or life threatening diseases represent an enduring unmet medical need and are collectively called “neglected diseases”. Of the 1,556 new drugs approved between 1975 and 2004, only 21 (1.3%) were specifically developed for tropical diseases and tuberculosis, even though these diseases account for 11.4% of the global disease burden.
Although the R&D landscape has significantly changed for neglected diseases since 2000, there is an urgent need for new, field-adapted drugs to treat visceral leishmaniasis (VL), human African trypanosomiasis (HAT or sleeping sickness), and Chagas disease. A potentially fatal disease, VL is present in 62 countries, with 200 million people at risk and 500,000 new cases each year. Therapeutic options for VL are limited as there are significant drawbacks like route of administration, toxicity, or cost. HAT, a fatal disease if not treated, threatens more than 50 million people in 36 countries and has limited treatment options. For Chagas disease, which infects 18 million and puts 100 million at risk in Central and South America, drugs are needed to treat both acute and chronic disease, as are safer and more effective drugs adapted to patient needs.
GlaxoSmithKline is one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies and is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For more information, visit GlaxoSmithKline at www.gsk.com.
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The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit product development partnership working to research and develop new and improved treatments for neglected diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease. With the objective to address unmet patient needs for these diseases, DNDi was established in 2003 by Institut Pasteur and Médecins Sans Frontières along with four publicly-funded research organizations in neglected disease-endemic countries. Working in partnership with industry and academia. DNDi has the largest ever R&D portfolio for the kinetoplastid diseases and currently has 6 clinical and 4 preclinical projects. In 2007, DNDi delivered its first product, a fixed-dose antimalarial “ASAQ”. For further information, please consult www.dndi.org.