Larry Norton, Senior Project Manager, IVCC (UK) and Dominique Besson, Associate Director, Discovery Data Research & Development, MMV (Switzerland) discuss the vision and aspirations behind the Global Health Priority Box.
1. Could you briefly describe the objective of the Global Health Priority Box?
Dominique Besson: Like other MMVOpen boxes, the Global Health Priority Box is intended to stimulate research on diseases affecting vulnerable populations by granting any scientist in the world free-of-charge access to samples and information to support their research. It’s specifically targeting research on vector control, and drug research for malaria and other neglected or zoonotic diseases with a high risk of drug resistance.
2. What is the vision behind this project?
Larry Norton: The goal is to improve collaboration among public and private organizations in developing new tools to combat public health threats, and to improve communication among scientists to speed up research. Emerging resistance to current mosquito and malaria interventions has increased the urgency of finding effective alternatives. A major objective is to spark interest in developing interventions for managing current and future public health threats. The key drivers here are novelty, structure-guided diversity and, for the malaria set, staying away from resistance. This new box was developed not only to stimulate research, but to provide meaningful starting points that could lead to drug discovery programmes to fight diseases that affect the poorest people.
3. What has it been like to work with MMV?
Larry Norton: The Product Development Partnership model that IVCC and MMV share has led to a strong working relationship over the past two decades. By understanding this mutual way of working, we’re better able to share relevant knowledge and expertise for addressing the threats of drug and insecticide resistance. Working with MMV on the Global Health Priority Box has been an opportunity to widen and deepen our partnership, and to stimulate innovation among a more diverse group of stakeholders to achieve our common goal of eradicating malaria.
4. What do you hope this project will achieve?
Dominique Besson: Our ambition is to stimulate the scientific community’s interest and involvement in global health. The box provides an opportunity to reach researchers who might not have been targeted or impacted by our previous MMVOpen boxes. Similarly, we hope that Bristol Myers Squibb’s donation might inspire other pharmaceutical partners to propose compound libraries or submit discovery projects to fuel our pipeline. Overall, we believe that this collection will help us identify new partners who can propose novel, interesting ideas or research strategies.