DNDi, AstraZeneca enter collaboration on drug-compound screening for NTDs

Published on April 12, 2012 at 11:44 AM · No Comments

AstraZeneca and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) today announce an agreement to collaborate on drug-compound screening for leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness, three neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which together affect nearly 10 million people worldwide. Novel drug candidates to emerge from this collaboration will bolster the drug development pipeline for new medicines urgently needed by millions of patients.

In the new partnership, AstraZeneca will provide to DNDi 15,000 compounds that have the potential for activity against leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness. The screening activities, coordinated by DNDi, will be performed at Institut Pasteur Korea (IPK). If active compounds against any of the three diseases are identified as 'hits', DNDi and AstraZeneca will jointly assess their potential as starting points for future medicines.

'As a global pharmaceutical company which conducts a significant amount of infectious disease research, AstraZeneca recognizes the urgent need to deliver new medicines for people who suffer from neglected tropical diseases. Sharing science beyond our own labs with leading organizations like DNDi is a great way to tackle these complex diseases that have gone unchecked for far too long', said Manos Perros, Head of the AstraZeneca Infection Innovative Medicines Unit.

The visceral form of leishmaniasis has one of the highest death rates of all NTDs, killing up to 60,000 people each year mainly in Africa and South Asia. The cutaneous form disables and deforms 1.5 million people throughout the Middle East and Latin America. Chagas disease infects approximately 8 million people and is the leading parasitic killer in the Americas, causing approximately 12,000 deaths each year. Sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) threatens millions in 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and, like the visceral form of leishmaniasis, is fatal if left untreated.

'We welcome AstraZeneca as a new partner in our ongoing efforts to access the compounds necessary to boost the development of much-needed medicines for the world's most neglected patients, including those afflicted with leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness', says Dr Bernard P-coul, Executive Director of DNDi. 'This first agreement with AstraZeneca gives us a solid basis to build a fruitful collaboration and access promising new drug compounds for these and other neglected diseases.'

This agreement follows on the commitments announced at a landmark meeting in London on January 30, 'Uniting to Combat NTDs', where a range of public and private partners gathered in a coordinated push to support the WHO's control and eliminations goals for 10 of the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.

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