The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and Abbott have signed a four-year joint research and non-exclusive licensing agreement to undertake research on new treatments for several of the world’s most neglected tropical diseases, including Chagas disease, helminth infections, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness. Through this collaboration, DNDi and Abbott scientists will focus initial efforts on discovering and advancing novel antimicrobial agents with activity against these neglected diseases.
Since 2009, Abbott has provided compounds for DNDi to screen for activity against neglected diseases. This new agreement expands this relationship, and provides DNDi access to selected classes of molecules and accompanying data generated by Abbott that are crucial for the development of effective and accessible new treatments for neglected diseases.
“Innovative product development partnerships have significant potential for addressing neglected diseases,” said Dr. John Leonard, senior vice president, Pharmaceuticals, Research and Development, Abbott. “By combining the unique scientific expertise and resources of DNDi and Abbott, we look forward to accelerating research to find practical new treatment options for people affected by these diseases.”
“Abbott has demonstrated a great level of commitment by partnering with DNDi to share not only its compounds, but also its expertise and resources. For DNDi, this implies a new critical mass of knowledge to pursue our goals of addressing the unmet needs of neglected patients in the poorest areas of the world,” said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi.
Equitable access to treatments for neglected diseases in all endemic countries, not only least-developed countries, is at the core of this agreement, and DNDi has committed to ensuring the lowest sustainable pricing for any products developed and distributed as a result of the agreement. Intellectual property (IP) related to this agreement, existing relevant Abbott IP and new IP generated by this collaboration will be subject to a principle of non-exclusive licensing to address neglected diseases in endemic countries. Under the agreement, Abbott has the right of first negotiation to become DNDi’s development and distribution partner. DNDi is free to engage other partners if Abbott chooses not to serve as a development and distribution partner.
The agreement, in short implies:
- Both DNDi and Abbott share their unique scientific expertise and resources to advance the development of drugs adapted to patient needs.
- DNDi gains access to Abbott compounds, data and information to accelerate drug development.
- Non-exclusive licensing structure for relevant IP in the neglected diseases field provides flexibility, thus expanding the potential of drug development.
- Any resulting products will be provided in endemic countries at the lowest sustainable price to expand patient access.
About the London NTD event
The commitments announced by DNDi are a key part of a new, coordinated push by a diverse range of public and private partners to combat 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by 2020. Today, 13 pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. and U.K. governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and officials from NTD-endemic countries pledged to bring a unique focus to defeating these diseases and to work together to improve the lives of the billion people worldwide affected by NTDs.
In the largest coordinated effort to date to combat NTDs, the group announced at an event at the Royal College of Physicians that they would: sustain or expand existing drug donation programs to meet demand through 2020; share expertise and compounds to accelerate research and development of new drugs; and provide more than US$785 million to support R&D efforts and strengthen drug distribution and implementation programmes. The partners also signed onto the “London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases,” in which they pledged new levels of collaboration and tracking and reporting of progress.
New funding commitments will fully support work toward the eradication of Guinea worm, as well as expedite progress toward the 2020 goals of: elimination for lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy; and control of soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas and visceral leishmaniasis.
About Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected diseases are a group of tropical infections that disproportionately affect the world’s poor and marginalized populations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a billion people or one-sixth of the global population suffer from one or more tropical infectious diseases. The partnership between DNDi and Abbott is focused on finding new treatments to address the following diseases:
- Chagas disease is endemic in 21 countries across Latin America and kills more people in the region than any other parasite-borne disease, including malaria. In total, 100 million people are at risk worldwide and patient numbers are growing in non-endemic countries such as the United States, Australia, and Europe. The disease is transmitted by an insect known as the “kissing bug” and, without treatment, is potentially fatal. Existing treatments have an unsatisfactory cure rate and can have toxic side effects.
- Helminth infections include filarial diseases, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) caused by parasitic worms, which inflict the heaviest socioeconomic burden of all the neglected tropical diseases and affect millions in poverty-stricken areas. Current treatments for these diseases cannot be used for patients who are infected with a related nematode worm, Loa loa, because of the severe side effects caused by rapid killing of juvenile Loa loa worms. There is an urgent need for a new treatment for onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis in Loa loa endemic regions.
- Leishmaniasis occurs in 98 countries, placing 350 million people at risk worldwide. The parasite that leads to infection is called Leishmania and transmitted by sandflies. Leishmaniasis is a poverty-associated disease with several different forms. Visceral leismaniasis, which is fatal without treatment, and cutaneous leshmaniasis are the most common. Existing treatments are difficult to administer, toxic, and costly. Drug resistance also is an increasing problem.
- Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), is endemic in 36 African countries and around 60 million people are at risk of being infected. HAT is transmitted by the tsetse fly and is fatal without treatment. Up until 2009, existing treatments for stage 2 of the disease were toxic or difficult to administer. In 2009, DNDi and its partners launched the first new treatment for HAT in 25 years.
About Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)
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. Since its inception, DNDi has delivered six new treatments for neglected patients: two fixed-dose antimalarials (ASAQ and ASMQ), nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) for late-stage sleeping sickness, sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin (SSG&PM) combination therapy for visceral leishmaniasis in Africa, a set of combination therapies for visceral leishmaniasis in Asia, and a paediatric dosage form of benznidazole for Chagas disease. www.dndi.org
Abbott and its philanthropic foundation, the Abbott Fund, are supporting innovative new efforts to advance the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of neglected diseases around the world. In 2009, Abbott created an Executive Council for Neglected Diseases to coordinate efforts across the company to contribute innovative technologies, drug compounds and scientific expertise, working in partnership with non-profit organizations, academic research institutions and multilateral agencies. The Abbott Fund also supports programs to advance research and expand community education and outreach on neglected diseases.
Abbott is a global, broad-based health care company devoted to the discovery, development, manufacture and marketing of pharmaceuticals and medical products, including nutritionals, devices and diagnostics. The company employs nearly 90,000 people and markets its products in more than 130 countries. Abbott’s news releases and other information are available on the company’s website at www.abbott.com.
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Violaine Dällenbach, Press & Communications Manager, DNDi
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DNDi North America, New York (English): Oliver Yun
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