GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) have agreed to collaborate in the development of new therapies for malaria. The research project will be funded by MMV with substantial in-kind contributions from GSK and UCSF.
The project will build on a previous collaboration that has taken advantage of discoveries in parasitology at UCSF and in medicinal chemistry at GSK. The discoveries at UCSF concern the mechanism by which the malaria parasite attacks and degrades red blood cells to obtain basic nutrients, a mechanism involving a digestive enzyme called falcipain. Scientists at UCSF have developed evidence that inhibiting the enzyme may show promise in the development of new medicines for malaria. Meanwhile, scientists at GSK, benefiting from earlier experience in discovering inhibitors for closely related enzymes in humans, have identified compounds to selectively inhibit the malaria enzyme.
GSK will contribute certain rights under GSK’s patents to such inhibiting compounds specifically in the field of malaria treatment and prophylaxis. In addition, GSK has agreed to contribute its strengths in that area along with the laboratory facilities and services needed to optimize drug candidates. UCSF will evaluate drug candidates in animal models.
MMV will provide funds to support chemists and biochemists at GSK and UCSF. MMV, one of the first public-private partnerships, was founded as a result of discussions between several international organizations and philanthropic foundations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA). The newly signed agreement exemplifies the kind of partnerships they promote to accelerate drug discovery to combat developing world diseases. The need for new medicines is growing with the increasing resistance of the malaria parasite to current therapies.
The new collaboration is the second aligning GSK with MMV. The other is a consortium comprising GSK, MMV, Bristol University, U.K., and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It was established to design and develop novel inhibitors of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), an important enzyme in the glycolytic pathway of Plasmodium falcipurum.