The Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany (BMBF) has granted EUR 8 Million to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to develop innovative treatments for neglected tropical diseases. The grant will be disbursed over the period of 2011-2015 and is part of a larger funding programme of EUR 20 million allocated by the BMBF to three product development partnerships (PDPs)*.
The grant will allow DNDi to efficiently advance the development of innovative, field-adapted treatments for patients suffering from neglected tropical diseases and will be applied to DNDi activities ranging from compound screening to clinical studies for new or improved products for sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and helminth infections.
It is estimated that over one billion people, mostly in developing countries, are affected by at least one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases, endemic in nearly 150 countries or territories. Despite the major advances in medicine over the past half-century, NTDs have until recently incited little attention and investment in the research and development (R&D) and international arenas.
“We celebrate this new long-term commitment to R&D for neglected tropical diseases. This engagement will make a significant difference in the development of new health tools needed to support control programmes and elimination strategies. We hope it will lead the way for other governments to join the fight against NTDs”, said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, DNDi.
Since its foundation, DNDi has made available six treatments for neglected diseases, including two for malaria, one for sleeping sickness, one for visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in East Africa, a set of treatments for VL in Asia, and a paediatric dosage form of benznidazole for Chagas disease. Several promising drug candidates, potentially oral and shorter-course treatments, are in DNDi’s drug development pipeline, and could significantly change the way patients in the field are treated.
“We strongly believe that DNDi, through the development of cost-effective and easy-to-use treatments to be delivered in the coming years, will contribute to global efforts to control and/or eliminate certain NTDs which lack suitable prevention, diagnostics, or treatment options”, explained Dr Helge Braun, Parliamentary State Secretary, Germany. “The BMBF is committed to supporting specific Millenium Development Goals and the DNDi grant is part of that effort“, he added.
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The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit research and development organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, in particular sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, specific helminth infections, paediatric HIV, and malaria. DNDi was established in 2003 by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) from Brazil, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Ministry of Health of Malaysia, and Pasteur Institute of France. The Special Programme for Tropical Disease Research (TDR) serves as a permanent observer.
Violaine Dällenbach, Press & Communications Manager, DNDi
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