New Japan-driven initiative to accelerate research, development innovation for neglected diseases

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), based in Geneva, Switzerland, and DNDi Japan, based in Tokyo, welcome the launch of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT), an initiative supported by the Japanese government, several Japanese pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The GHIT fund will support and stimulate research & development (R&D) projects for neglected diseases by leveraging scientific resources and expertise of the pharmaceutical industry in Japan, facilitating the collaboration between product development partnerships (PDPs), Japanese pharmaceutical companies, and the public sector, including universities and research institutes. GHIT now adds to the efforts of the past decade to accelerate innovation for diseases that affect the poorest of the poor in developing countries.

'This initiative comes at a time when the R&D landscape for neglected diseases is particularly in need of resources to guarantee that R&D is boosted in the long-term and that patients gain access to the fruits of that research', said Dr Bernard P-coul, Executive Director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). 'We are delighted about the GHIT initiative', he added.

Since 2003, DNDi has actively collaborated with various public and private partners in Japan, including the University of Tokyo for the development of Ascofuranone for sleeping sickness and for establishing a research centre on visceral leishmaniasis in Bangladesh; the Kitasato Institute for screening of natural substances and establishing a pan-Asian screening network; and more recently with the pharmaceutical companies Eisai Ltd., to develop a pro-drug of ravuconazole for Chagas disease - currently in clinical stage, and Astellas Pharma for drug discovery for sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease.

'We congratulate the GHIT founding partners for this excellent initiative and we aim to both continue and renew our fruitful partnerships in Japan to develop new treatments for neglected diseases, including sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, filarial infections, and paediatric HIV', said Professor Haruki Yamada, Chairman of the Board, DNDi Japan.

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