Momentum builds for neglected diseases drug discovery

MMV chairs successful session at the 22nd International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry in Berlin
21 September 2012

Drug discovery for neglected and tropical diseases is moving up a gear. Research led by Product Development Partnerships (PDPs) such as MMV, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and the Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development (TB Alliance) is starting to pay off. Participants at the International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (the world’s largest medicinal chemistry conference), heard how research to identify promising new molecules for diseases like malaria, visceral leishmaniasis and TB is making real progress. As the momentum builds, drug pipelines are starting to blossom like never before.

Medicine for Malaria Venture’s pipeline now contains nine molecules in early development, all discovered in the last 6 years, and with at least six new mechanisms of action. It is hoped that these compounds will become the components of the antimalarial combination medicines of the future. The excitement around these new classes of molecules was reflected by the fact that the audience outnumbered the seats available at the session entitled: ‘New small molecule approaches for neglected diseases’.

The session included presentations from Dr Charlie Mowbray of DNDi, Dr David Waterson of MMV and Dr Takushi Kaneko of TB Alliance, as well as Dr Richard Elliott of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and was chaired by Dr Jeremy Burrows of MMV. The speakers talked of the challenges and success stories in their respective fields, while also sharing the key lessons they have gleaned during the course of their work.

 “It’s an exciting time to be involved in global health. Drug discovery is in full swing. Pipelines are robust. It’s still early days, but the next 5 years hold a great deal of promise as numerous compounds, with the potential to save the lives of many of the most vulnerable, progress,” said Dr Rich Elliott.

“It was a great honour to be asked to chair a session on drug discovery for neglected diseases at an international conference attended by renowned medical chemists,” said Dr Jeremy Burrows, Head of Discovery at MMV. “What was particularly gratifying was to see the interest the session generated, with the audience almost spilling out of the room. It just goes to show the growing interest in drug discovery research for diseases of poverty.”