STI and DNDi Enter Agreement

[ Basel, Switzerland – January 26, 2005 ]
Strengthening Worldwide Research Effort into Drugs to Treat Sleeping Sickness.
[Français]
The Swiss Tropical Institute (STI) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), have agreed to collaborate on vital research and development of affordable and effective therapies for human African trypanosomiasis (also known as sleeping sickness), one of the most devastating diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

Affecting more than 300,000 patients a year, human African trypanosomiasis threatens more than 60 million people in 36 countries . Three of the 4 currently available treatments were developed more than sixty years ago, and only eflornithine can be used after the initial stage of the disease when the parasites have invaded the brain.

“ The partnership of STI and DNDi provides a well-balanced range of projects for sleeping sickness and should serve as a model for future drug development for neglected diseases ,” remarked Dr. Bernard Pecoul , Executive Director of DNDi.

Through a cooperative agreement, STI and DNDi are currently collaborating on 5 projects, 4 in discovery and one in clinical development . As Switzerland ‘s leading research institute into tropical diseases, STI will provide valuable expertise in the screening of new drug classes, in clinical trials in central Africa as well as training and support of personnel in disease-endemic countries.

The clinical trial under DNDi’s supervision examines the effectiveness of a co-administration of two existing therapies in patients with advanced sleeping sickness. This treatment offers new hope for patients by being safer and more effective.

“Based on our successful collaboration in the field of sleeping sickness”, remarked STI Director Marcel Tanner, “This agreement marks our efforts to strengthen and to broaden our commitment to work on neglected diseases and, thus, to contribute to world-wide health development.”

The Swiss Tropical Institute (STI) was founded in 1943. Today its mandate is teaching, research and services in the field of international health with an interdisciplinary approach. It has developed into an institution which enjoys worldwide recognition.

The STI is active in a wide range of international health related issues and includes basic research, development of new intervention tools (drugs, vaccines) and epidemiology, diagnosis and control of infectious diseases ( with focus on malaria, TB, meningitis, sleeping sickness), health care interventions and health services management. Focus areas are Africa , Asia , Eastern Europe and Switzerland (public health, migrants and refugees). Further activities include clinical and diagnostic services.

Further information: www.sti.ch

Based in Geneva , the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) is an independent, not-for-profit drug development initiative that aims to develop new, improved, and field-relevant drugs for neglected diseases such as leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, and malaria. DNDi’s partners include public sector research institutions from Brazil, Kenya, Malaysia, and India; as well as MSF, Institut Pasteur; and with the WHO’s Tropical Diseases Research program acting as a permanent observer. With a current portfolio of 20 projects in various stages of drug research and development, DNDi also works to raise awareness about the need for greater R&D for neglected diseases and strengthens existing research capacity in disease-endemic countries. For further information: www.dndi.org

For more information contact STI’s Reto Brun ( reto.brun@unibas.ch ; +41 (0)61 284 82 31) or
DNDi’s Ann-Marie SEVCSIK at ( amsevcsik@dndi.org ; +41 (0)79 814 9147)