Dr Robert Don, Discovery and Pre-Clinical Director at DNDi (2005-2017), reflects on challenges and achievements in drug discovery at DNDi over the last 12 years.
The journey to the sleeping sickness trial site in Isangi from the DNDi office in Kinshasa begins in the domestic airport of DRC’s capital city and ends more than a day later halfway across the country in a barge crossing the Congo river. In between: hours spent navigating potholed dirt roads, collapsed bridges, checkpoints, and multiple river crossings. Once at Isangi, canoes must be used to reach many of the patients as there are no roads.
Yet for DNDi’s clinical team in DRC, Isangi is one of the easier-to-reach sites. The DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR) both pose daunting challenges that must be overcome to develop better treatments for patients suffering from sleeping sickness.
A l’occasion de l’Evénement économique 2017 du 9 novembre dernier, la Chambre de commerce, d’industrie et des services de Genève (CCIG), le Département de la sécurité et de l’économie (DSE) et l’Office de Promotion des Industries et des Technologies (OPI) ont décerné le Prix 2017 de l’innovation à l’initiative Médicaments contre les Maladies Négligées (DNDi).
As part of the ‘Evénement économique 2017’ that took place on November 9, the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG), the Department of Security and Economy (DSE) and the Office for the Promotion of Industries and Technologies (OPI) awarded the Innovation Prize 2017 to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
GARDP has set up its team, scientific advisory committee, and R&D strategy. Three programmes are underway: neonatal sepsis, gonorrhoea, and an initiative to recover and connect the vital knowledge of scientists in antibiotic drug development. In recent weeks, both the G20 Health Ministers and outgoing WHO Director-General Margaret Chan have expressed support for GARDP and called for more R&D into drug-resistant infections.
Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, DNDi
Ambitious targets serve the obvious purpose of galvanising the NTD community around a shared goal, and the London Declaration succeeded in bringing new actors to the table and casting a much-needed spotlight on the neglect of these diseases. But the job is far from done, and we should not be lulled into a sense of security or complacency by too much celebrating of good news.
Thirty-five year old Tsadik is a visceral leishmaniasis (VL) patient who is also infected with HIV. He is gaunt, weak and tired, with sunken eyes. Each breath he takes is laboured. Tsadik lives in Abdurafi, a region of northwest Ethiopia that is characterized with high VL-HIV co-infection because VL is endemic….
Sani sits in the doorway of her one-room house with her baby girl Mel in her arms. A pink sunset illuminates the Durban township of KwaMashu that unfolds below her clifftop house. She looks lovingly at Mel, then takes out a syringe and struggles to give the two-year-old,a medicine that is over 40% alcohol.
Graeme Bilbe, Research & Development Director, DNDi
‘We need to ensure that results of R&D are affordable and available to patients’
DNDi’s R&D Director Graeme Bilbe looks back on 2016 and the exciting advances in DNDi’s portfolio, and explains what he sees as the biggest challenges facing the organization.