• Target disease: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL)
  • Main Partners (since project start): Celgene Corporation, USA; Laboratory of Microbiology, Parasitology and Hygiene, University of Antwerp, Belgium; London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK; Sandexis, UK; WuXi AppTech, China.
  • Project start: 2015
  • Funding (since project start): Department for International Development (DFID), UK; Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), the Netherlands; Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF through KfW), Germany; Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders, International.


Overall Objective: 

  • Select a pre‑clinical candidate from the CGH VL series for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis


A novel series of heterocyclic compounds for visceral leishmaniasis has been optimized by Celgene in collaboration with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Advinus, and with advice from DNDi.


Because of poor pharmacokinetics and a lack of safety margins following extensive exploration, the decision was made to stop this series. A new screen has begun with a new sub-set of the Celgene library of compounds with the goal to identify novel lead series.

DNDi’s collaboration with Celgene Global Health continues to explore the potential of this series to deliver a pre-clinical candidate. Compounds with much improved physical properties, including improved aqueous solubility, were identified in 2017.

An in vivo proof-of-concept has been achieved for this series. An intensive lead optimization programme is ongoing with Celgene to identify an optimized lead. 


Last update: February 2019