WHO awards over $1 million to MMV’s ‘Exploiting the Pathogen Box’ project

Funding will unlock the Pathogen Box’s potential to discover novel drugs for diseases of poverty 

19 Aug 2015

MMV’s project ‘Exploiting the Pathogen Box’ has been awarded USD 1,360,000 by the Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) to accelerate drug development for poverty-related diseases.

The project was one of six  ‘demonstration projects’ selected by WHO with guidance from the WHO Executive Board and the former Chair and Vice-Chair of the Consultative Expert Working Group on Research and Development: Financing and Coordination (CEWG). The goal of the demonstration projects is to develop health technologies (medicines, diagnostics, medical devices, vaccines, etc.), by employing innovative ways, for diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries and for which identified R&D gaps remain unaddressed due to market failures. The funding is being administered by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases.

“The ‘Exploiting the Pathogen Box’ project by MMV is a great example of a R&D demonstration project,” said Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General. “Not only does the project bear hope to discover new leads for innovative drugs against neglected tropical diseases, but it also has an inbuilt component of capacity building for researchers in developing countries.”

“We are delighted that WHO has chosen to support MMV’s ‘Exploiting the Pathogen Box’ project,” said Dr David Reddy, MMV’s CEO. “MMV and partners have spent 18 months identifying and procuring promising molecules for the Pathogen Box. This funding will really help to ensure the most is made of these molecules in the spirit of open knowledge sharing with scientists from the north and south of the globe.”

Modelled on MMV’s award winning Open Access Malaria Box and with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pathogen Box is due to be launched at the end of 2015. It will contain approximately 400 diverse, drug-like molecules active against diseases, such as Chagas’, human african trypanosomiasis and schistosomiasis. Upon request, researchers around the world will receive a Pathogen Box. In return, they will be asked to publish any data generated, thus creating an open and collaborative forum for neglected diseases drug research.

Through open source collaboration, WHO’s funding for the Pathogen Box will be used, over 5 years, towards the:

  • Delivery of up to 25 robust active series against relevant pathogens
  • Identification of mechanisms of resistance and modes of action on up to 25 Pathogen Box compounds
  • Delivery of 40 Challenge Grants to endemic-country scientists to develop and build capacity in their regions, ideally leading to new projects