Research for new drugs against neglected diseases and malaria in Brazil to receive funding boost totaling BRL 43.5 million

27 Nov 2019
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Read the press release in Portuguese

São Paulo – 27 November 2019. In the search for new drugs to treat neglected diseases and malaria, researchers at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and University of Sao Paulo (USP) will assemble a team of scientists in a global collaboration network co-funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).

The international consortium, supported by FAPESP under the auspices of its Research Partnership for Technological Innovation (PITE) program, will receive investments amounting to BRL 43.5 million (US$ 10.2 million) over a 5-year period. FAPESP will invest BRL 7.8 million, while MMV and DNDi together will invest BRL 12.8 million. UNICAMP and the USP will jointly contribute BRL 22.9 million in research infrastructure and personnel costs.

Established in collaboration with UNICAMP and USP, the consortium aims to identify preclinical candidate compounds targeting the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and malaria.

  • The goal of the project with MMV is to identify a new anti-malarial molecule which can rapidly kill the parasite, that is not susceptible to the development of drug resistance. Ideally, it should be something that can be administered as a directly observed therapy, which supports patients to receive a curative dose of treatment and so would help drive elimination of malaria in countries like Brazil, and eventually worldwide.
  • With DNDi, the goal is to deliver a high-quality compound, optimized and ready for clinical development, for the treatment of Chagas disease and leishmaniasis, in line with the target product profile developed by DNDi and its partners to guarantee the delivery of a compound that meets patients’ needs.

‘Collaboration by UNICAMP and USP with MMV and DNDi presents São Paulo with the challenge of discovering molecules that are good clinical candidates to combat neglected diseases and malaria, while at the same time providing access to the pipelines of the partner organizations and their experience in analyzing such molecules. The consortium will thereby combine research at the knowledge frontier and connect it to applications of enormous social relevance with the training of researchers. These are important objectives for São Paulo State,’ said Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director of FAPESP.

Neglected diseases and malaria affect billions of people around the world, and are a cause and consequence of poverty. For some neglected diseases in particular, the few drugs available to treat them are expensive, ineffective, or have unwanted side effects. The project aims to stimulate the development of capabilities to research new drugs in Brazil by means of an exchange of best knowledge practices.

MMV is committed to discovering the medicines that will enable malaria-endemic countries, like Brazil, to eliminate the disease from within their borders as well as support global eradication,’ said Dr Timothy Wells, MMV’s Chief Scientific Officer. ‘We are delighted to be drawing on the expertise of Brazilian scientists at UNICAMP and USP and combining that with MMV’s malaria experience to find antimalarial medicines for the people of Brazil and beyond.’

‘The consortium’s key differentiator is the creation of an international network that’s multidisciplinary, self-sustaining, and designed to meet the needs of the inhabitants of endemic countries. It’s a joint effort with the same purpose: obtaining safe and effective treatments for Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and malaria,’ said Jadel Müller Kratz, R&D Manager, DNDi.

The partnership will also support the training of future generations of experts in neglected disease treatment at UNICAMP and USP, while at the same time creating new opportunities for employment and investment in infrastructure at these universities.

The consortium will span international boundaries and lead to the consolidation of a global partnership model that contributes to innovation, the advancement of knowledge for the discovery of novel drug candidates to treat parasitic tropical diseases, the acceleration of research timetables, and the sharing of data,’ said Luiz Carlos Dias, professor at UNICAMP’s Chemistry Institute and responsible for the overall coordination of the project.