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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Japan Joins Fight Against Neglected Diseases
30 May 2013 3:00 pm
Tens of thousands of new compounds will be screened for effectiveness against critical illnesses
Japan is joining global efforts to contain malaria, tuberculosis, and a variety of tropical diseases in a big way. A recently formed public-private partnership will on Saturday formally announce agreements to screen tens of thousands of drug candidates from Japanese private and public sector compound libraries for treatments for illnesses that primarily afflict the poor in developing countries.
The 11 initial agreements are the first fruits of a recently formed public-private Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund). It was set up in April and brings together Japan's foreign affairs and health and welfare ministries, a consortium of five pharmaceutical companies, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Japanese government is putting up a bit over one-half of the $100 million that is committed to GHIT over the next 5 years; the drugmakers and the Gates Foundation are contributing the rest. Funding could increase if more companies join the consortium, says BT Slingsby, the fund's CEO and executive director.
Slingsby says that Japan has been a bit behind other nations in contributing to the global health R&D effort. Even though Japan is a major producer of new pharmaceuticals, Japanese companies lack the size and global recognition of American and European pharma giants. Although Japan has been one of the biggest contributors to development assistance in recent years, little of that money has previously gone into global health R&D. And the major nongovernmental organizations addressing global health concerns are based in the United States or Europe, leaving Japan out of the picture.
To get back into the game, GHIT looked for a new model rather than creating new nonprofit organizations focused on specific diseases, Slingsby says. "We're trying to be additive and not replicate what's out there," he says. So they are working with established nonprofits—the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi)—to help develop candidate drugs.
GHIT funding will enable researchers to test compounds from the libraries of Japanese drugmakers Eisai, Daiichi Sankyo, Shionogi, and Takeda Pharmaceutical, and the private Tokyo-based nonprofit Institute of Microbial Chemistry. The TB Alliance and MMV are searching for drugs to augment current treatments for tuberculosis and malaria that are losing efficacy. DNDi hopes to find treatments for three neglected tropical diseases—leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness. Astellas Pharma is also involved in the initiative.