DNDi and partners have accessed libraries of pharmaceutical compounds to identify new anthelmintic molecules active against Onchocerca species, with the aim of developing a drug candidate for filarial indications. Following the identification of several hits, collaborative hit-to-lead and lead optimization programmes were initiated with Celgene and AbbVie. DNDi provided biological resources, expertise, and the target candidate profile to select the best candidates. In 2019, DNDI-6166 (previously known as CC6166) was nominated as pre-clinical candidate and selected for further development by DNDi and Bristol-Myers Squibb (formerly Celgene). In late 2020, DNDi absorbed the project in its entirety. 

Project updates


The therapeutic index of DNDI-6166 was refined using an enabling formulation known as a solid amorphous dispersion (ASD). This enhanced the compound’s absorption, facilitating the attainment of elevated plasma levels at lower doses. Encouraging outcomes from ongoing studies indicated an improvement in the therapeutic index and confirmed the appropriateness of the ASD formulation for regulated safety studies and continued development.


Full pre-clinical development of DNDI-6166 (CC6166), elucidation of the mechanism of action, and development of a suitable formulation for Phase I evaluation will proceed when the required funding is secured.


CC6166, a potentially macrofilaricidal compound, was selected in December 2019 as a pre-clinical candidate for further development by DNDi and Bristol-Myers Squibb (formerly Celgene). Preparatory work, including polymorph screening and optimization of formulations for toxicology studies, began in 2020, but other planned activities were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2020, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced the dissolution of its Global Health research team, and all activities have now been transferred to DNDi.


DNDi  and Celgene (now part of Bristol-Myers Squibb) have signed an agreement covering pre-clinical and Phase I for a potentially macrofilaricidal compound known as CC6166. Celgene will cover all pre-clinical, Phase I, and CMC activities, while DNDi  will provide expertise and know-how.


Lead optimization of a novel class of compounds with macrofilaricidal profiles is ongoing with the aim to select a candidate for pre-clinical development in 2019. 


In 2017, candidates from four distinct chemical series were evaluated through the lead optimization effort conducted in collaboration with Celgene while others were evaluated through the Macrofilaricide Drug Accelerator (MAC DA) led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of efforts to develop a third microfilaricide candidate for development. 

One successful compound is a well-known antihelminthic (oxfendazole) that is currently being investigated for feasibility of use in humans. These efforts will continue throughout 2018. 


In conjunction with industrial partners, Abbvie and Celgene, further lead optimization was carried out. These efforts will continue throughout 2017, with the aim of delivering a pre-clinical candidate for filarial diseases.