Medicines for Malaria Venture, Genzyme Corporation and the Broad Institute Expand Collaboration to Discover New Drugs for Malaria
October 18, 2006 - Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), Genzyme Corp., and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard announced today that they have expanded their collaboration to discover and advance new therapeutic candidates for malaria. The alliance will build on work begun earlier this year and will enable the expansion of a drug discovery program focused on identifying compounds that may offer a completely new approach to treating malaria.
In addition to co-funding and co-managing this effort with Genzyme and the Broad Institute, MMV will also work with the two partners to secure additional resources to scale-up the program further. Currently, there are four early discovery projects in this portfolio. All intellectual property developed under this collaboration will be made available to MMV on a royalty free basis for use in developing and distributing new drugs for the treatment of malaria.
“We are very pleased to expand our support for what has already begun to be a productive collaboration between one of the premier genomic research institutions and one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies,” said Dr. Chris Hentschel, president and CEO of MMV. “This collaboration enhances our capacity to identify promising new antimalarial compounds and explore completely novel approaches to treat this deadly disease.”
Today’s announcement was made in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, following a presentation made by representatives of Genzyme and the Broad Institute to MMV’s board of directors and representatives of the Abu Dhabi Bio City project. With the aim of making a significant impact on the discovery and development of novel antimalarial agents, an innovative malaria research center within the Bio City is being explored. Aspects of the MMV-Genzyme-Broad collaboration could potentially be incorporated in the work of this malaria research center.
“Genzyme is committed to participating in efforts to discover and advance new drug candidates for malaria and other diseases affecting the developing world,” said James Geraghty, senior vice president for the company and a leader of Genzyme’s Humanitarian Assistance for Neglected Diseases initiative. “We are committed to doing this work through partnerships like the one we’ve formed with MMV and the Broad Institute because they allow us to participate in a sustainable way that shareholders can support. We hope this model may inspire others within the industry to contribute their capabilities to neglected diseases.”
Approximately 40 percent of the world’s population - mostly those living in the poorest countries - are at risk of malaria. There are an estimated 300 - 600 million new clinical cases of malaria annually, directly causing over one million deaths. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, and many children who survive an episode of cerebral malaria suffer from learning impairments or brain damage. Beyond the human toll, malaria has a significant economic impact in endemic countries - costing Africa US$12 billion in lost GDP every year and consuming 40 percent of all public health spending.
“Malaria continues to devastate global health and new therapeutic strategies are desperately needed to defeat the disease,” said Professor Dyann Wirth, the co-director of the Broad Institute’s Infectious Disease Initiative and chairman of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health. “In striving to meet this important goal, we are grateful to the Medicines for Malaria Venture for joining the collaborative work we have begun with our Genzyme colleagues.”
Medicines for Malaria Venture
Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and delivering new affordable antimalarials through effective public-private partnership. After six years of operation, MMV is managing the largest-ever portfolio of malaria drug research with more than 20 projects in different stages of drug research and development including five combination drugs already in human clinical trials.
Research and Development (R&D) supported by industry-style portfolio and project management lies at the core of MMV’s operations. Drug research and development is carried out in the labs and clinics of MMV’s partners. Everyday around the world, more than 500 scientists, doctors, clinicians are working against time to develop life-saving antimalarials. Today MMV has over 80 R&D partners in 34 countries. Partner organizations in the pharmaceutical industry, academic institutes and endemic-country research centers contribute with staff, facilities know-how and technology. MMV’s Expert Scientific Advisory Committee, public sector collaborators, academics, and board members donate their time and talents. Thanks to this pooling of knowledge and resources, the costs of developing new malaria treatments are significantly reduced, bringing the goal of effective treatments for all one step closer to reality.
One of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, Genzyme is dedicated to making a major positive impact on the lives of people with serious diseases. This year marks the 25th anniversary of Genzyme’s founding. Since 1981, the company has grown from a small start-up to a diversified enterprise with more than 8,500 employees in locations spanning the globe and 2005 revenues of $2.7 billion. Genzyme has been selected by FORTUNE as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work for” in the United States.
Through its Humanitarian Assistance for Neglected Diseases initiative, Genzyme is participating in efforts to discover and advance novel treatments for neglected diseases affecting the developing world. The initiative serves as a vehicle to identify, evaluate and manage scientific projects and partnerships focused on diseases that collectively affect hundreds of millions of people. These could include malaria, tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, sleeping sickness and other diseases. Genzyme is focusing on projects where it can play a defined role in the process of moving potential new treatments from discovery toward clinical testing. The company will not seek to profit from the commercialization of any products it helps to develop. It will grant all commercial and intellectual property rights in neglected disease areas to non-profit partners. The HAND initiative complements existing Genzyme programs that provide free medicines and help to build sustainable health care systems in developing countries.
The Broad Institute
The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was founded in 2003 to bring the power of genomics to biomedicine. It pursues this mission by empowering creative scientists to construct new and robust tools for genomic medicine, to make them accessible to the global scientific community, and to apply them to the understanding and treatment of disease. The Institute is a research collaboration that involves faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard academic and medical communities, including the Harvard-affiliated hospitals and the Whitehead Institute. It is jointly governed by the two universities.
The Broad Institute’s Infectious Disease Initiative brings together a scientific community focused on using genomic tools to understand the mechanisms behind infectious diseases and to apply this knowledge to the prevention and treatment of these diseases. The primary emphasis is on malaria and tuberculosis, diseases that kill hundreds of millions of people every year. Major areas of focus for malaria include comparative genome analysis, population genetics of pathogen populations and chemical screening. These efforts aim to create a map of malaria variation that is suitable for mapping traits such as drug resistance and for tracing global spread, and to identify compounds capable of blocking key aspects of the malaria life cycle.
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