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Press Releases 2008

The University of North Carolina and DNDi Agree to Synergize Novel R&D Efforts to Develop Drugs for the Most Neglected
[ Chapel Hill, USA; Geneva, Switzerland - June 4, 2008 ]
International fight against neglected tropical diseases strengthened by collaboration between two leading public-private partnerships to further development of safe and affordable drugs to fight diseases in the least developed countries.


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) have entered into a synergistic collaboration  to ensure that needs-driven R&D for the most neglected diseases is handled in the most efficient manner possible.

“This collaboration marks an excellent opportunity to strengthen both parties’ efforts, to achieve significant international benefits in their own fields of drug research, and to align strategies that will ultimately facilitate project management and patient access to innovation,” remarked Dr. Richard R. Tidwell, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and Director of the UNC-led Consortium for Parasitic Drug Development (CPDD).  

Through a cooperative agreement, DNDi and CPDD will work to prevent any duplication of research efforts, to identify projects of common interest where collaboration could result in improved product development efficiency, and to provide independent review, in-depth analysis, and information sharing between the two institutions so as to avoid any redundant efforts and unnecessary spending for the development of new anti-parasitic treatments.
“The partnership between CPDD and DNDi allows for both parties to fortify our research efforts in a field where resources were rare and precious as both organizations have a common interest in the sustainable development of affordable drugs to fight diseases of the poor in the world’s least developed countries,” remarked Dr. Bernard Pecoul, Executive Director of DNDi.  “We are confident that this partnership will contribute to the development of needs-adapted treatments for the most neglected.”

The Consortium for Parasitic Drug Development (CPDD) is an international group of research laboratories coordinated through The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH).  The explicit aim of the Consortium is the development of new drugs for diseases such as late stage Human African trypanosomiasis and visceral leishmaniasis. Members of the Consortium are capable of offering expertise at every step of the drug development process. This includes high quality standardised screens of drugs against trypanosomes and Leishmania (in vitro and in vivo), medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, preclinical and clinical trials, production scale up and drug distribution. Members of the Consortium include Georgia State University, Swiss Tropical Institute, University of South Florida, University of Glasgow, Ohio State University, and Kenya Agriculture Research Institute.

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit product development partnership working to research and develop new and improved treatments for neglected diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, and Chagas disease. With the objective to address unmet patient needs for these diseases, DNDi was established in 2003 by Institut Pasteur and Médecins Sans Frontières along with four publicly-funded research organizations in neglected disease-endemic countries. Working in partnership with industry and academia, DNDi has the largest ever R&D portfolio for the kinetoplastid diseases and currently has 2 post-registration, 5 clinical, and 3 preclinical projects, along with a wide variety of discovery activities. In 2008, DNDi has delivered its first two products, fixed-dose antimalarial “ASAQ” and “ASMQ”. For further information, please consult www.dndi.org.

About neglected tropical diseases
Tropical diseases such as malaria, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, Chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), dengue fever, and schistomiasis continue to cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. These disabling and/or life threatening diseases represent an enduring unmet medical need and are collectively called “neglected diseases”. Of the 1,556 new drugs approved between 1975 and 2004, only 21 (1.3%) were specifically developed for tropical diseases and tuberculosis, even though these diseases account for 11.4% of the global disease burden.

Although the R&D landscape has significantly changed for neglected diseases since 2000, there is an urgent need for new, field-adapted drugs to treat visceral leishmaniasis (VL), human African trypanosomiasis (HAT or sleeping sickness), and Chagas disease. A potentially fatal disease, VL is present in 62 countries, with 200 million people at risk and 500,000 new cases each year. Therapeutic options for VL are limited as there are significant drawbacks like route of administration, toxicity, or cost. HAT, a fatal disease if not treated, threatens more than 50 million people in 36 countries and has limited treatment options. For Chagas disease, which infects ~8 million and puts 100 million at risk in Central and South America, drugs are needed to treat both acute and chronic disease, as are safer and more effective drugs adapted to patient needs.


For media inquiries

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr Bernard Pecoul:
contact Sadia KAENZIG at skaenzig@dndi.org; +41 (0)79 819 9971; or
Ann-Marie SEVCSIK at amsevcsik@dndi.org; +41 (0)79 814 9147.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Richard Tidwell:
contact Vicki Wingate at wingate@med.unc.edu; 919-966-4294; or
Melynda Watkins at Melynda.Watkins@fulcrum.pharma.com; 919-228-4439.

For more information on DNDi North America:
contact Michelle French, Regional Communications Manager, North America, at mfrench@dndi.org,
+1 212 298 3743 or +1 646 552 4600.

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