New drug discovery projects funded in partnership with Japanese Global Health Fund

Two new research projects aimed at finding new treatments for malaria and tuberculosis (TB) are to receive support from the Wellcome Trust, as part of a new funding partnership with the Tokyo-based Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund).

Electron micrograph of malaria parasites

Credit: Hilary Hurd, Wellcome Images

Electron micrograph of malaria parasites.

Part of the Wellcome Trust’s initial £3 million funding will support two new 'hit-to-lead' projects that seek to identify and refine new drug candidates for the two infectious diseases, which disproportionally affect low and middle income countries:

  • A partnership between Japanese pharmaceutical firm Takeda and the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) will develop three series of compounds identified from screening Takeda’s compound library. One of these appears to be very potent against the liver stage of a malaria infection and could have the potential to protect people from contracting the disease.
  • A second partnership between Shionogi & Company, the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development will explore potential TB treatments that emerged from screening 40,000 of Shionogi’s compounds.

GHIT Fund’s CEO, Dr BT Slingsby, said: "GHIT is establishing an effective, efficient and multifaceted process for harnessing Japanese innovation to fight diseases that are a major source of illness in the developing world."

Dr Ann Mills-Duggan, from the Wellcome Trust’s Innovations division, added: "Investing in Japanese science is a new venture for Innovations, and one that we’re very excited about. By partnering with GHIT, we want to tap into the best of Japanese innovation in a bid to tackle the deadly diseases that disproportionately affect the world’s poorest people."

GHIT was set up in 2012 with the aim of developing new tools to tackle infectious diseases that devastate the world’s poorest people. Other funders include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, six Japanese pharmaceutical companies and the Japanese Government.