May 31, 2015
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Consortium forms to accelerate neglected tropical disease drug research

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Four pharmaceutical companies and a nonprofit drug research and development organization have announced the start of a collaborative effort to reduce the cost of early leishmaniasis and Chagas disease drug research, according to a press release.

The Neglected Tropical Diseases Drug Discovery Booster consortium will employ a multilateral, simultaneous process, in which the most promising research findings will be investigated jointly by the participating companies. According to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), this process has the potential to trim the early drug discovery process by up to 2 years and is more cost-efficient.

“This experimental approach to radically modernize drug development for neglected diseases is the result of a decade of growing partnerships with pharmaceutical companies,” Bernard Pécoul, MD, MPH, executive director of DNDi, said in the release. “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.”

The participating pharmaceutical firms are Eisai, Shionogi, Takeda Pharmaceutical and AstraZeneca. Promising results or new treatments for leishmaniasis or Chagas disease will be attributed to all groups, and there will be no intellectual property barriers placed on successful treatments.

The GHIT Fund will provide project funding to support DNDi. The Japanese public-private partnership supports the research and development of neglected diseases that affect the developing world.

“The Drug Discovery Booster could be a game-changing milestone in the fight against diseases that destroy the health and livelihoods of the world’s poorest,” B.T. Slingsby, MD, PhD, MPH, CEO of GHIT Fund, said in the release. “Industry’s innovative leadership for the most neglected of the neglected diseases will be essential to accelerate progress toward creating lifesaving medicines.”