Medicines for Malaria Venture, Higher Colleges of Technology and Global Medical Forum Foundation Collaborate on Innovative Abu Dhabi Bio City Research Initiative to Tackle Malaria

Aim to make a strong impact in the global fight against malaria

18 Oct 2006

The new Center for Malaria Research, Development, Distribution & Education, planned to be constructed as a part of Abu Dhabi Bio City, is an initiative to unite the resources, expertise and capabilities necessary in the fight against malaria. The Abu Dhabi Bio City is formally linked to the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in the United Arab Emirates, the largest training institute in the Gulf region.

The Center, projected to be completed by 2009, seeks to make a significant impact on the discovery and development of novel antimalarial agents, and their subsequent distribution and effective use in the major regions of the Indian Ocean basin in which malaria is endemic including the GCC, the broader Middle East, East Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.

Ideally positioned in terms of regional accessibility, financial support and human resources, the principle goals of the Center are:

Drug Discovery - To establish a research facility capable of developing a sustainable pipeline and submitting completely novel compounds for clinical development, and to manufacture such compounds for clinical investigation and therapeutic usage.

Drug Distribution - To establish the Center as the distribution hub for malaria medicines and other preventive treatments and regimens to countries in which malaria is endemic, particularly with those that the UAE already has strong ties.

Professional Medical Education - To establish an educational and training facility within the Center medical and paramedical staff from the surrounding region can receive training in malaria prevention and treatment.

Positive Policy Change - To establish a center within the Center where policymakers and other leaders from the region can be schooled in the importance of malaria R&D, treatment and prevention.

“The Higher Colleges of Technology are extremely proud of this joint effort which will aim to make a strong impact in the global fight against malaria,” said Dr. Tayeb Kamali, Vice Chacellor of HCT and Vice-Chairman of Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (CERT). “We are committed to increasing the country’s biomedical capabilities in order to improve the health and lives of millions around the world.”

Working with industry, research and public health partners, MMV would be responsible for helping to build and manage the Center’s antimalarial pipeline. As a potential first project to be incorporated into the Malaria Research Center, MMV has reached an agreement with Genzyme Corporation and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to launch a cutting-edge antimalarial drug discovery initiative using the expertise and resources of all partners.

“MMV is delighted to be involved in this groundbreaking initiative in Abu Dhabi,” said Dr. Chris Hentschel, President and CEO of MMV. “To win this battle against this persistent scourge, we need continuous search for new and better solutions and innovative ways to ensure that patients have access to life saving intervention.”

Approximately 40 percent of the world’s population - mostly those living in the poorest countries - are at risk of malaria. There are an estimated 300 - 600 million new clinical cases of malaria annually, directly causing over one million deaths. Malaria kills one child every 30 seconds, and many children who survive an episode of cerebral malaria suffer from learning impairments or brain damage. Beyond the human toll, malaria has a significant economic impact in endemic countries - costing Africa US$12 billion in lost GDP every year and consuming 40 percent of all public health spending.

“The problem of the diseases of the developing world is daunting but it is a challenge we must take on as a united global community, industry and governments alike. This collaborative effort is a fantastic example of pioneering, pragmatic and practical response to a very complex challenge,” said Prof. Raphael Levey, Chairman of the Global Medical Forum Foundation. “The partners will use their complementary skills and knowledge to realize the goals.”

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Notes to the Editor

Abu Dhabi Bio City

Abu Dhabi Bio City is a new mixed-use, US$180 million biomedical cluster that is being developed in Abu Dhabi by a consortium consisting of the Global Medical Forum Foundation (GMF) of Zurich, Switzerland, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) of Abu Dhabi, Bio City Development Corporation (BCDco) of Hong Kong together with financial consultants and investors Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank of Abu Dhabi, and Macquarie Bank of Australia. Its development is in parallel with the founding of an additional US$150 million biomedical research investment fund by HBM Partners of Zurich Switzerland and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, which will support early and mid-stage companies within the cluster and beyond.

Abu Dhabi Bio City (ADBC) therefore represents a US$330 million commitment to create a center of excellence for research and development in the life sciences in the Middle East and to establish a unique advanced hospital for the treatment of children from the entire region who require state-of-the-art care for complicated illnesses.

The hospital will be one of the key elements in the program of the government for advancing the teaching of its citizens in the biotechnological and biomedical sciences and in its continuing attempt to participate in the improvement of global health.

The cluster will also contain major R&D facilities for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology companies, an Incubator Center, and facilities for housing spin-off and other appropriate commercial activities. It will be formally linked to HCT, the largest training institute in the Gulf region.

The Participants

HCT/CERT

Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) was founded in 1988 and is the umbrella organization under which each of the UAE’s twelve higher educational colleges operates. From the original four campuses, HCT now includes 12 modern men’s and women’s campuses with an impressive range of programs in the cities of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah & Fujairah. HCT now has over 18,000 students each year.

Abu Dhabi Medical College (ADMC) which opened in 1988 includes modern scientific and computer laboratories, technical workshops, and classrooms equipped with the latest technology to assist students in gaining the skills they need to excel in their chosen careers. ADMC offers a range of work-relevant programs in business, communication technology, engineering technology, information technology and, most recently, health sciences. ADMC is adjacent to HCT’s Center for Excellence in Applied Research and Training (CERT).

CERT is the commercial arm of HCT, responsible for the provision of education, training, and applied technology for public and private sector clients as well as PPPs. CERT has strategic alliances with numerous large multinational organizations in the development of a diverse range of business and technology solutions. The company is thought to be the largest private education provider in the Middle East and has education and knowledge projects throughout the MENA region. In 2005, CERT & IBM signed a deal, the largest of its kind, to develop telematics technology in the UAE. Working with IBM, CERT provides the only super-computing centre in the South Asia, Middle East, North Africa region. The CERT Blue Gene supercomputer offers teraflop calculating speeds to corporate clients for use in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and genetics research as well as oil and gas simulation.

CERT Technology Park in the UAE is home to companies such as Intel, Honeywell and Lucent Technologies. CERT also leads human capital development by offering total education solutions to both corporate and individual customers. Many public and private sector agencies now use CERT as their exclusive training provider ensuring that the quality of programs and teaching meets both national HCT standards and international quality benchmarks. CERT holds the MENA training rights for many ‘best in class’ programs such as the American Management Association qualification and the Edward De Bono program in strategic and lateral thinking. CERT is the exclusive health and environment educator for the General Health Authority. The CERT Institute for Languages offers instruction in several languages, and is also the sole provider of linguistic training to the UAE military. Post-graduate programs offered include the University of Strathclyde MBA and the Deakin University Master of Education.

Under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan (Minister of Education, UAE), CERT/HCT are rapidly becoming benchmark institutions both higher education and technology transfer.

Global Medical Forum Foundation

GMF is a private, non-profit National Swiss Foundation, founded in Zürich 6 years ago with the goal of “making a difference in the healthcare debate”. In order to do so, it has brought together a network of leaders of the numerous participants in the healthcare ecosystem - from academe, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical imaging and device industries, young biotechnology companies, insurance and regulatory agencies, and social scientists.

The Foundation’s core principle is that rational dialogue among rational men and women can find a constructive way forward in this debate, provided that all participants remember, that despite its faults, medical discovery and innovation have brought the dream of the alleviation of pain and suffering and the extension of happy and creative lives to humankind closer than ever.

GMF understands that the problems of the equitable delivery of healthcare are daunting but is committed to the notion that they can only be solved by honest and non-ideological debate.

Although the Foundation’s roots are in clinical medicine and biotechnology, it has become a catalyst and bridge between various parties vested in medical innovation and socio-economics of healthcare.

The goals of GMF are to serve as a platform for constructive and rational dialogue; to give a public voice to those who are involved in healthcare; to dispel the myths and clichés that surround the healthcare debate; to be a source of unbiased, truthful and balanced information; to promote biomedical innovation; and to encourage positive developments in the socio-economics of healthcare, including innovative PPPs.

Through its involvement with Public-Private Partnerships GMF is committed to demonstrating how state-of-the-art care can be achieved in a cost effective manner in conjunction with appropriate biomedical research, education, and commercialization of laboratory discoveries. Thus, two Bio City Development projects are well underway in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with the government of the United Arab Emirates in and in Shanghai in cooperation with the government of the Peoples Republic of China.

Medicines for Malaria Venture

About MMV

MMV has recently concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the Genzyme Corporation and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts to collaborate on the discovery of novel antimalarial agents. This unique partnership is expected to play an important role in the Malaria Research Center in the Abu Dhabi Bio City.

Genzyme is one of the largest biopharmaceutical firms in the world with estimated 2005 revenue of US $ 2.7 billion. With over 8000 people in 30 countries and 14 manufacturing sites, it can make a significant contribution in drug discovery/assay development, medicinal chemistry, molecular parasitology, genomics, clinical development and formulations.

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was founded in 2003 to bring the power of genomics to biomedicine. It pursues this mission by empowering creative scientists to construct new and robust tools for genomic medicine, to make them accessible to the global scientific community, and to apply them to the understanding and treatment of disease. The Institute is a research collaboration that involves faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard academic and medical communities. It is jointly governed by the two universities.