The Novartis Institute for Tropical
Diseases (NITD) will focus on the development of a one-dose cure for
Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous form of malaria, and a
curative modality for Plasmodium vivax, the most frequent and widely
distributed cause of malaria.
According to estimates, between 300m and 500m new cases of malaria
occur each year, 90 per cent of which occur in children in Africa.
Malaria morbidity and mortality rates are rising in developing
countries, largely due to the emergence of drug resistant parasites
rendering traditional antimalarial drugs, such as chloroquine and
sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) ineffective.
This new partnership will investigate the potential for
development of existing compounds that have already shown antimalarial
activity, and explore novel compounds.
Resarchers will perform basic and applied drug discovery
research, including target identification, development of screening
assays, synthesis and the testing of drug candidates.
"NITD brings together the best of industry and academic knowledge along with technology and strong scientific networks," Daniel Vasella, Chairman and CEO of Novartis, said.
"This funding will allow us to utilize these capabilities in the fight against malaria."
Resources will be allocated by the partnership, which includes
the Singapore-based NITD, the Wellcome Trust, the Singapore Economic
Development Board (EDB) and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV).
The NITD, which is expanding its focus on tropical diseases to
include malaria as well as dengue fever and tuberculosis, was
established in 2003 as a public-private initiative between Novartis and
the Singapore Economic Development Board.
"The NITD is an important member of Singapore's rapidly growing biomedical sciences research community," said Philip Yeo, chairman of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).
"Singapore is pleased to support this important endeavor to
develop better treatments for malaria and advance human healthcare
around the world."
In 2005, Novartis delivered nine million treatment courses of
the anti-malarial medicine Coartem at cost for public-sector use by
patients in malaria-endemic countries.
To meet demand, Novartis and partners on three continents have
scaled up manufacturing capacity to make it possible to produce around
70 million treatment courses of Coartem by the end of 2006.