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GlaxoSmithKline and Medicines For Malaria Venture announce new collaboration to investigate novel antimalarial compounds


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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the not-for-profit group, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), today announced a new collaboration to identify novel drugs for the treatment of malaria. Research will focus on macrolide antibiotics, based on azithromycin, which may have promise as an antimalarial treatment. Under the new agreement, MMV will provide funding for research to be performed at GSK.

Macrolide antibiotics are a well-established class of antimicrobial agents that have a significant role in the treatment of infectious diseases. The macrolide azithromycin is known to have antibacterial activity, but it has also shown some activity against malaria. The research collaboration between GSK and MMV will investigate the potential of azithromycin-based drugs to treat drug resistant malaria.

“Existing antimalarial treatments have been an important component of public health and have saved millions of lives. Despite this success, we now face the challenge of resistance to these widely used medicines, including potential resistance to artemisinin combination therapies (ACT),” said Dr. Timothy Wells, Chief Scientific Officerat the Medicines for Malaria Venture. ”This collaboration with GSK capitalizes on the company’s research excellence and helps meet MMV’s objective of developing antimalarials that will retain their usefulness longer and enable us to help vulnerable populations at risk from malaria.”

“Our agreement with MMV is part of our ongoing commitment to fighting diseases with the biggest impact on the developing world,” said Dr. Patrick Vallance, Senior Vice President, GSK Drug Discovery. “We recognize that innovative alliances are an important part of meeting the challenge of treating people affected by malaria, which is why we have been actively collaborating with MMV since 2000.”

Under the terms of the agreement, MMV will provide funding in order to advance the development of azithromycin-based treatments that may address resistance and side effects associated with existing antimalarial medications. Research activities thus funded will be performed in one or more GSK facilities world-wide under the joint oversight of MMV and GSK. The goal of the collaborative program is to obtain compounds with activity against P. falciparum, no antibacterial activity, good oral bioavailability and efficacy, and acceptable safety properties to ultimately select drug candidates for development.

Malaria is among the world’s worst communicable diseases, causing over a million deaths each year and imposing major economic burdens on disease endemic countries. An estimated 500 million or more clinical cases of malaria occur every year. Malaria is a major killer disease in Africaand a primary cause of death and poverty - undermining development in some of the poorest countries in the world. Though the majority of the cases and approximately 90% of the malaria deaths are found in Sub-Saharan Africa, the disease is growing in Asiaand Latin America.

Although significant treatment milestones have been achieved throughout history to help manage malaria, antimalarial drugs, like all drugs for infectious diseases, have a limited useful life and eventually need replacing. This initiative brings together funds, coordination and management, coupled with areas of specific scientific and technical expertise to identify potential candidates to meet the current challenges.

Notes for editors

GlaxoSmithKline plc– one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For more information and the company’s product development pipeline, visit GSK at

GlaxoSmithKline has a dedicated Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery where research into bacterial infections figures importantly in the scope of this center, as does research on diseases endemic in developing countries. Where market incentives are lacking, we engage with academia, government, and philanthropies to meet our common responsibilities. We have formed alliances with both the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, and our alliance partners help to support 55 scientists working exclusively on malaria and tuberculosis drugs. GSK has devoted a like number of scientists, our laboratories, and our discovery and development experience. We will make resulting medicines affordable to those most in need.

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 well-tolerated, effective, and affordable antimalarial drugs through effective public-private partnerships. After seven years of operation, MMV is working with over 80 partners worldwide to manage the largest-ever portfolio of malaria drug research with over 40 projects in different stages of research and development. Of these, three new artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs) have completed phase III clinical trials and are preparing for registration by a stringent regulatory authority. MMV’s goal is to register at least one new antimalarial before 2010 and maintain a sustainable pipeline of antimalarials to meet the needs of the 3.2 billion people at risk from this deadly disease. For further information please consult
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