AsianScientist (May 31, 2013) – The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), a new public-private partnership, is taking Japanese R&D to the global fight against infectious disease.
It announced today at the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) a series of 13 historic agreements to screen compound libraries at Japanese pharmaceutical companies and research institutes for new treatments for malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected diseases.
“These thirteen agreements are just the first of what we expect will be many global health partnerships facilitated and funded by the GHIT Fund that tap into Japan’s enormous capacity for innovation and technology,” said BT Slingsby, MD, PhD, MPH, who serves as CEO and executive director of the GHIT Fund.
The GHIT Fund is a public-private partnership between the government of Japan, a consortium of Japanese pharmaceutical companies that includes Astellas Pharma Inc.; Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd.; Eisai Co., Ltd.; Shionogi & Co., Ltd.; and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Launched with a potential five-year commitment of over US$100 million, the fund is unique in that it involves a consortium of pharmaceutical companies who initiated a partnership with government and civil society to support research and development for neglected diseases. It also is the first time the Japanese government has made a significant commitment to developing new technologies that target diseases that are mainly a burden on poor countries.
In its inaugural effort, the Fund will finance three non-profit product development partnerships (PDPs) to search for new drug candidates in compound libraries maintained by Japanese pharmaceutical companies and research institutes. The three PDPs are the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
TB Alliance is partnering with Eisai Co., Ltd., Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., Shionogi & Co., Ltd. and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd in a search for compounds that show potential to fight deadly, drug-resistant TB strains that are undermining efforts to control the global TB epidemic.
MMV is partnering with Eisai Co., Ltd., Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., along with the Institute of Microbial Chemistry (BIKAKEN) and Kitasato Institute, to seek out new candidates for treating malaria in the wake of resistance to artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs).
DNDi is partnering with Eisai, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, the Institute of Microbial Chemistry (BIKAKEN), and Kitasato Institute as part of its effort to find new treatments for three neglected tropical diseases (NTDs): leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness (Human African trypanosomiasis or HAT).
The 13 partnerships emerged from a call for proposals issued by the GHIT Fund in April. A key requirement is that each proposal must involve both a Japanese partner and an international collaborator already working in global health R&D. Additional agreements are expected from this call for proposals, and another round of proposals has been planned.
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