Japan screening massive drug compound libraries for new treatments
The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), a public-private partnership focused on Japanese R&D related to infectious disease, will make a series of agreements to screen compound libraries at Japanese pharmaceutical companies and research institutes for new treatments for malaria, tuberculosis and other afflictions.
The GHIT Fund is a partnership between the government of Japan, a consortium of Japanese pharmaceutical companies (Astellas, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Shionogi and Takeda Pharmaceutical) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Launched with a potential five-year commitment of over $100 million, the fund involves a consortium of pharma companies that initiated a partnership with government and civil society to support R&D for neglected diseases.
The Fund's inaugural efforts are financing the work of three nonprofit product development partnerships (PDPs) to search for new drug candidates in compound libraries maintained by Japanese pharma companies and research institutes. The PDPs involved in the work are the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
TB Alliance is partnering with Eisai, Daiichi Sankyo, Shionogi and Takeda Pharmaceutical in a search for compounds related to drug-resistant TB strains.
MMV is partnering with Eisai, Daiichi Sankyo and Takeda Pharmaceutical, along with the Institute of Microbial Chemistry (BIKAKEN) and Kitasato Institute, to seek out new candidates for treating malaria. Resistance to the most current drugs now available, artemisinin combination therapies, has emerged in Southeast Asia.
DNDi is partnering with Eisai, Takeda Pharmaceutical, BIKAKEN and Kitasato Institute to find new treatments for three neglected tropical diseases (NTDs): leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness.
The 13 partnerships to probe the various drug compound libraries emerged from a call for proposals issued by the GHIT Fund in April open to all Japanese companies and research institutions and to international PDPs developing new tools to fight infectious disease. Additional agreements are expected from this call for proposals. The GHIT Fund plans to seek another round of proposals, which could prompt more Japanese companies and research organizations to offer their compound libraries for screening.
In addition, the GHIT Fund also is seeking grant proposals for partnerships focused on developing new medicines, vaccines or diagnostics that seek to reduce the burden of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and others. A key requirement is partnership: each proposal must involve both a Japanese and an international collaborator already working in global health R&D.