An initiative bringing together pharmaceutical firms and other research groups has brokered more than 50 new partnerships in the fight against neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis and malaria, marking an important milestone in using the intellectual property system to help combat maladies affecting more than one billion people.
Since the 2011 launch of WIPO Re:Search, WIPO and its Seattle-based partner BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) have enlisted scores of partners from five continents to collaborate on developing diagnostics, treatments and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) – such as leprosy, river blindness and rabies, as well as malaria and TB – that are most prevalent in developing countries.
WIPO Re:Search matches owners of intellectual property and other resources – such as pharmaceutical compounds, data and discovery techniques – with qualified researchers working on new treatments for NTDs. Under the agreements, these resources are provided for free. So far, more than 50 such collaborations have been agreed, underscoring WIPO Re:Search’s growing influence in the public-health sphere.
Under the 50th agreement, GlaxoSmithKline plc will provide researchers at India’s National Institute of Immunology with its Published Kinase Inhibitor Set 1 (PKIS1), which will be used to better understand liver-stage malaria parasites.
Other recent agreements include two in which Sanofi SA and Pfizer Inc. are sharing compounds with researchers at the Center for World Health and Medicine at Missouri’s Saint Louis University to develop new anti-diarrheal treatments.
“Barely two years old, WIPO Re:Search is finding new ways to use intellectual property in the fight against some of the world’s most persistent, and neglected, ailments,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “WIPO Re:Search and its partners are expanding their efforts to drive new medical innovations that will help millions of people around the world.”
Added BVGH President Jennifer Dent: “BVGH is proud of the partnerships established between WIPO Re:Search members to date. We’ve seen a strong commitment and desire to share compounds and knowledge to help advance research and development for neglected diseases,” said Dent, BVGH President. “Through these collaborations, WIPO Re:Search will make a difference in the lives of people living in endemic countries and that is the ultimate goal of consortia members.”
In another notable collaboration, researchers at the University of California San Francisco are using Merck & Co. Inc.’s statins that were originally designed to combat human heart disease. The researchers are investigating whether the compounds are useful against the parasite that causes schistosomiasis.
WIPO Re:Search, with the financial support of the Australian government, has also arranged sabbaticals for biomedical researchers from Africa to work in some of the world’s leading research facilities, such as Novartis AG in Switzerland, and Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco in the U.S. Three African researchers recently returned home from these institutions to share the results of their studies with colleagues at their institutes in Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon [Dr. Fidelis Cho-Ngwa Video / Dr. Wellington Oyibo Video / Prof. Christian Agyare Video]. A fourth scientist from Egypt is continuing her work at Stanford University on schistosomiasis.
Background for Editors:
About WIPO Re:Search: One of the world’s great global health challenges is to overcome the impact of neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. WIPO Re:Search aims to stimulate more research and development for new and better treatment options for those suffering from these diseases.
WIPO Re:Search provides access to intellectual property for pharmaceutical compounds, technologies, and – most importantly – know-how and data available for research and development for neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria. By providing a searchable, public database of available intellectual property assets and resources, WIPO Re:Search facilitates new partnerships to support organizations that conduct research on treatments for neglected tropical diseases, ultimately improving the lives of those most in need. WIPO Re:Search’s funding members are: Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of the United States; Eisai Co. Ltd of Japan; GlaxoSmithKline plc of the United Kingdom; Merck & Co., Inc. of the United States; Novartis AG of Switzerland; Pfizer Inc. of the United States, and Sanofi SA of France. A list of all WIPO Re:Search’s partners can be found here.
About Neglected Tropical Diseases, malaria and tuberculosis: The 19 neglected tropical diseases and conditions prioritized by the World Health Organization, affect over one billion people in 149 endemic countries. Malaria and tuberculosis are also prevalent in developing countries, where these ailments hinder social and economic development. For more information: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/en/
About WIPO: The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the leading global forum for the promotion of intellectual property as a force for innovation and creativity to achieve positive change. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 187 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.
About BVGH: BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington, USA whose mission is to engage private industry in global health initiatives. BVGH aims to accelerate the development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics that address the unmet medical needs of the developing world. BVGH works at the crossroads of the biopharmaceutical industry and global health to find the common ground between the aspirations of the global health community and the strategic priorities of companies.