Astellas Pharma of Tokyo, Japan, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit R&D organization focused on neglected diseases, have formed a drug discovery research collaboration for leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness — three neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) which together affect nearly 10 million people worldwide.
The agreement is a first critical step in Astellas' new strategy to enter into the field of NTDs, with DNDi as its first partner. Astellas will provide DNDi with a selection of original compounds, which will be screened at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Switzerland. The pharmaceutical profiles of the compounds have been studied in pre-clinical and/or clinical stages at Astellas. DNDi will conduct reprofiling of the compounds to test their anti-protozoan activities and assess their potential as new anti-protozoan candidates for the three targeted diseases.
“Astellas believes that this joint research method leads to the early entry into the development stage of new potential agents if promising compounds are identified as candidates. Astellas will seek the way to contribute drug discovery research for NTDs based on Astellas' advanced science,” said Dr. Shin-ichi Tsukamoto, senior vice president of Astellas Drug Discovery Research.
“We welcome Astellas as a new partner both in the field of NTDs and as part of a product development partnership. In the field of neglected diseases, and particularly for the most neglected — leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and sleeping sickness — this new partnership reinforces the critical mass of engaged actors necessary to address urgent patient needs,” said Dr Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi.