AstraZeneca and MMV Join Efforts in the Fight Against Malaria
AstraZeneca and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) today announced a collaborative agreement designed to identify novel candidate drugs for the treatment of malaria. The agreement will initially allow MMV access to AstraZeneca's extensive compound library. MMV will seek to identify promising compounds with the potential to treat malaria, including drug resistant strains of the disease. AstraZeneca CEO David Brennan announced the collaboration at the Fortune/TIME/CNN Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.
Globally, malaria caused an estimated 863,000 deaths in 2008, mainly amongst vulnerable populations in the developing world. Today's malaria drugs require courses of treatment lasting days or even weeks and follow-up can be difficult in many malaria-endemic countries. In some cases the disease has begun to develop resistance to existing drugs - a problem exacerbated, in part, by failure to complete courses of treatment. MMV works to discover, develop and deliver new, effective and affordable anti-malarial drugs with simpler dosing regimens thereby encouraging patient compliance and helping reduce the risk of resistance developing. The ultimate goal is to find a one-dose cure for malaria.
Under the terms of the agreement, scientists working with MMV will screen 500,000 compounds in AstraZeneca's unique library for activity against P. falciparum, the most lethal of malaria parasites. Prof. V. Avery at the Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia will conduct the screening on behalf of MMV. Promising compounds identified through the screening process will be starting points for antimalarial drug discovery projects. These compounds will be progressed through a discovery cascade at AstraZeneca's R&D facility in Bangalore, India, with the aim of identifying suitable candidates for clinical testing.
David Brennan, AstraZeneca's CEO said: "Our experience with infection research, and indeed with all of our R&D efforts, has taught us that we will only find solutions to today's global health challenges through collaborative efforts. Opening up our compound library to MMV is an important step toward addressing the enormous unmet medical needs of the developing world. AstraZeneca is committed to being part of the solution and we look forward to working with MMV and all those with a stake in global health."
Tim Wells, MMV's Chief Scientific Officer said: "AstraZeneca has had a long standing interest in neglected disease, and we are delighted to be able to collaborate with the centre in Bangalore on this exciting project in malaria. The screening of their library will give us some new unique starting points. However, the additional advantage is the Indian perspective: India has millions of cases of malaria per year, and in addition has a balance between Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax. Understanding and eliminating Indian malaria is one of the keys to eliminating malaria worldwide."
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Medicines for Malaria Venture, a not-for-profit public-private partnership, was established as a foundation in Switzerland in1999. It is dedicated to the reduction of the malaria burden in disease-endemic countries with the discovery, development and delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs. Our vision is a world in which these innovative medicines will cure and protect the vulnerable and under-served populations at risk of malaria, and help to ultimately eradicate this terrible disease.
MMV is currently managing the largest portfolio of antimalarial R&D projects ever assembled; almost 60 antimalarial projects in partnership with over 130 pharmaceutical, academic, and endemic-country partners in 44 countries. In 2009, in collaboration with partners, MMV launched its first ever product - a sweet-tasting, paediatric formulation, Coartem® Dispersible. Two other MMV-supported artemisinin combination therapies, EurartesimTM and Pyramax®, have been submitted to the EMA for regulatory approval. Seven further potential medicines are in clinical development. For more information please visit: www.mmv.org
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines. As a leader in gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease medicines, AstraZeneca generated global revenues of US $32.8 billion in 2009. For more information please visit: www.astrazeneca.com