The Drug Discovery Booster was launched in 2015 to circumvent early-stage commercial barriers between pharmaceutical participants, allowing DNDto search millions of unique compounds simultaneously, using computational approaches to refine the search iteratively, in the hunt for new treatment leads.

This experiment could significantly reduce the time and money it takes to find new, promising treatment leads, and echoes the great potential of innovative research and development collaborations.

Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, DNDi

The innovation of the Drug Discovery Booster not only lies in the multilateral approach, but also in the iterative nature of the search, meaning companies will continually examine their libraries for better matches as the search is refined. This will significantly condense down the time it will take to find new, promising treatment leads.

The GHIT Fund, launched in 2013, stimulates and supports such international global health research and development partnerships. Through an initial grant of EUR 640,000/ 79.5 million Japanese Yen, a second grant of EUR 470,000/ 55 million Japanese Yen, and a third grant of EUR 1.2 million/ 158 million Japanese Yen provided to DNDi, GHIT will support the involvement of the four Japanese companies in this project.

IPK joined DNDi’s new initiative, the NTD Drug Discovery Booster programme, that cuts the cost of early-stage drug discovery, accelerates and expands discovery of new drugs for NTDs. In 2016, we identified four hit series that are currently advancing to further development. It is our hope that we can soon identify a breakthrough compound for patients.

David Shum, Group Leader, Assay Development & Screening, Institut Pasteur Korea, South Korea

Project updates


Screening activities were placed on temporary hold in early 2019 to focus efforts on transitioning existing hit series into lead optimization projects. Two hit series are currently under further investigation with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited, and work is underway to transition additional series for potential lead optimization in 2020.


In 2018, the Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma Inc. joined the NTD Drug Discovery Booster, becoming the eighth company in the consortium.

Screening continued at the rate of one new iteration per month.

To date, the Booster project has launched 45 iterations around 22 seed compounds, with the result that 13 hit series have been released, of which six have progressed to in vivo proof-of-concept studies for Chagas and/or leishmaniasis.


In 2017, two new companies – AbbVie and Merck – joined the Drug Discovery Booster, which included already Takeda, Eisai, Shionogi, AstraZeneca, and Celgene, bringing the total to seven participants.

To date, 32 iterations of the booster have been launched around 16 distinct seed compounds. Ten hit series have been identified, four of which will enter into proof-of-concept in vivo efficacy studies by Q1 2018.


Drug Discovery Booster key results September 2019

S02 data set from November 2020: xls / sdf

Seed status

1st Seed: Hit series identified, in vivo efficacy observed in Chagas disease model, publication in progress
2nd Seed: Hit series released, optimization ongoing, publication in progress
3rd Seed: Hit series released, optimization ongoing with Open Synthesis Network
4th Seed: Stopped
5th Seed: Hit series released, in vivo efficacy observed in leishmaniasis model, publication in progress
6th Seed: Hit series released, publication in progress
7th Seed: Lead optimization ongoing
8th Seed: 2 Hit series released
9th Seed: Stopped
10th Seed: Stopped
11th Seed: Stopped after 2 iterations
12th Seed: Stopped after 3 iterations
13th Seed: 2 Hit series identified, publication in progress
14th Seed: Hit series released, optimization ongoing
15th Seed: Stopped after 2 iterations
16th Seed: Hit series released, optimization ongoing
17th Seed: Stopped after 2 iterations
18th Seed: Stopped
19th Seed: Stopped after 2 iterations
20th Seed: Stopped after 2 iterations
21st Seed: Hit series identified
22nd Seed: Hit series released, optimization ongoing

Last updated: 25 August 2020