Immtech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced that it has received $5.1 million from a scientific consortium led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), which received funds from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop drugs for fighting African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis) and leishmania.
This grant is part of the $22.6 million the Gates Foundation has granted to the UNC-led consortium (the "Consortium") in 2006 to fund Phase III clinical trials using Immtech's oral drug, pafuramidine maleate, to treat stage one of African sleeping sickness. The Gates Foundation has also made previous grants of $15.1 million and $2.8 million to the Consortium, of which Immtech is the drug development member.
Immtech is working with the Consortium to develop pafuramidine as an oral treatment for African sleeping sickness and, if it is approved, pafuramidine will be the first oral drug ever developed to treat this disease. Pafuramidine is also in a pivotal Phase III trial for pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), a fungal infection in the lungs that can affect people living with HIV/AIDS and other severely immunocompromised patients, such as those undergoing chemotherapy or solid organ transplantations. In addition to targeting African sleeping sickness and PCP, pafuramidine is also being developed for malaria prevention and treatment.