World Intellectual Property Organization

First Agreements Concluded under WIPO Re:Search for Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases

Geneva, August 23, 2012
PR/2012/719

Research to develop treatments for neglected tropical diseases received a boost this month as AstraZeneca concluded agreements through WIPO Re:Search with iThemba Pharmaceuticals (South Africa), the University of California, San Francisco (U.S), and the University of Dundee (UK). 

The three agreements are the first partnerships established under the WIPO Re:Search initiative – an unprecedented collaboration to advance the discovery and development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases involving the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), leading pharmaceutical companies, academic and national research institutions, and BIO Ventures for Global Health.   The World Health Organization serves as a technical advisor to WIPO for WIPO Re:Search. 

“Agreements such as these to transfer technology from one partner to another are an important measure of success for WIPO Re:Search, which we launched less than a year ago,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “We are very pleased that AstraZeneca - one of the original members of WIPO Re:Search - has successfully concluded these first agreements, and we look forward to more results in the coming weeks and months.” 

Dr. Manos Perros, Head of the AstraZeneca Infection Innovative Medicines Unit, said: “As an industry, we have a great opportunity to make a real difference in global health through WIPO Re:Search by addressing the needs of the considerably underserved population suffering from neglected tropical diseases. These three partnerships are only the beginning for AstraZeneca in demonstrating how, by coming together, sharing our proprietary information and collaborating on potential solutions, we can help speed the research and development of treatments for these devastating diseases.” 

Since its October 2011 launch WIPO Re:Search has grown from 30 members to 50 - from all five continents – today. Under the terms of WIPO Re:Search, organizations agree to make available intellectual property assets (such as pharmaceutical compounds, drug discovery technologies, regulatory data, and know-how), to qualified researchers anywhere in the world on a royalty-free basis, provided the research is focused on neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis. Any products resulting from this research will also be royalty-free for sales in least developed countries (LDCs). 

Neglected tropical diseases are endemic in 149 countries and affect more than one billion people worldwide. By providing a searchable, public database of relevant, available intellectual property assets, information, and resources, WIPO Re:Search facilitates new research partnerships. BIO Ventures for Global Health, as the Partnership Hub Administrator, actively identifies partnership opportunities between members and facilitates collaborations to drive the development of new products for neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis. 

This work led to AstraZeneca collaborating with research institutions to study novel treatments for Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, schistosomiasis (snail fever), and tuberculosis, specifically: 

  • University of California, San Francisco (UCSF): Originally developed for osteoarthritis, AstraZeneca’s mature cathepsin inhibitors will be tested by UCSF researchers for activity in biochemical and phenotypic screens for two parasitic diseases: schistosomiasis and kinetoplastid diseases. Schistosomiasis can damage internal organs, impair growth and cognitive development in children, and the urinary form can increase risk for bladder cancer in adults. Kinetoplastid diseases include sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.
  • University of Dundee: Researchers will test a selection of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3 inhibitors, which were originally developed for a potential treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, against parasites responsible for Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness.
  • iThemba Pharmaceuticals: AstraZeneca will provide iThemba with computational and medicinal chemistry support for development of iThemba’s isocitrate lyase inhibitors, compounds intended as a novel treatment for tuberculosis.  

“We are thrilled to see the initial results of AstraZeneca’s commitment to WIPO Re:Search,” said Don Joseph, CEO, BIO Ventures for Global Health. “These collaborations are an important achievement for WIPO Re:Search’s Partnership Hub and the first step in accelerating the development of treatments for tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, African sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.”

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the leading global forum for the promotion of intellectual property as a force for innovation and creativity to achieve positive change. 

A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 185 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

About WIPO Re:Search

WIPO Re:Search is an initiative led by WIPO in partnership with BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH). The consortium includes a number of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, governmental, and non-governmental organizations. Through WIPO Re:Search, public and private sector organizations make valuable intellectual property and other resources available on a royalty-free basis to qualified neglected tropical disease researchers anywhere in the world. WIPO Re:Search Members are working to develop new products to prevent, diagnose and treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis.

About BIO Ventures for Global Health

BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to save lives by accelerating the development of novel drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics coming from the biopharmaceutical industry that address the unmet medical needs of the developing world. The organization works at the crossroads of biotechnology and global health to find the common ground between the goals of the global health community and the pragmatic needs of biopharmaceutical companies. For more information, please visit www.bvgh.org.

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