New WIPO Re:Search Partnership to Fight River Blindness

March 8, 2016

WIPO Re:Search members Merck KGaA of Darmstadt (Germany) and the University of Buea (Cameroon), announced a new partnership this week to advance R&D against onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness.  Pharmaceutical company Merck, which joined WIPO Re:Search in 2014, will provide access to compounds in its library to researchers at the University of Buea, who will screen the compounds for effectiveness against the adult parasitic worm that causes river blindness.

Existing treatments for river blindness work only against the juvenile worm.  While mass drug administration programs have been effective, additional treatments are needed to lower the burden of disease.  The work at the University of Buea will be led by Dr. Fidelis Cho-Ngwa, who has been an active Member of WIPO Re:Search since 2012. 

Dr Fidelis Cho-Ngwa at work in his lab (Photo: WIPO)
Dr Fidelis Cho-Ngwa at work in his lab (Photo: WIPO)

Multiplier effect

In 2013, Dr. Cho-Ngwa benefitted from a research sabbatical at Novartis, funded by WIPO Re:Search via a Funds-in-Trust grant from the Government of Australia. The collaboration with Merck demonstrates the multiplier effect flowing from engaged participation in WIPO Re:Search by Dr. Cho-Ngwa. Joining WIPO Re:Search positioned Dr. Cho-Ngwa to qualify for a research sabbatical, in turn raising his profile in the global research community, and enhancing interest in his laboratory from Merck.

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