New Initiative Tackles Neglected Tropical Diseases

February 25, 2011
Stephanie Sutton
Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

An initiative based in the Netherlands aims to bring together universities, pharma companies, international research institutions and product development partnerships to help develop new diagnostic tests and medicines for neglected tropical diseases.

An initiative based in the Netherlands aims to bring together universities, pharma companies, international research institutions and product development partnerships to help develop new diagnostic tests and medicines for neglected tropical diseases. According to a statement from the Top Institute Pharma (TI Pharma), one of the partners that helped to establish the initiative, treatments and tests for tropical diseases often do not exist, or can be unaffordable or of poor quality.

The initiative, named the European Solutions Enterprise for Neglected Diseases (euSEND), is a joint effort by the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, the Royal Tropical Institute, the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and TI Pharma. "euSEND takes on the role of matchmaker: euSEND ensures that research expertise and financial means find each other,” Jayasree Iyer, Program Manager of euSEND, said in a statement. “Also, euSEND arranges for methods and technologies proven successful with other diseases to be tried in the research into neglected tropical diseases to produce innovative solutions."

According to the initiative, more than 1 billion people in developing countries suffer from neglected tropical diseases. Investment and innovation in this area, however, is low because of patients’ lack of purchasing power, which means little financial gain for pharma companies.

"This new Dutch initiative is a major step on the path to developing medicinal products and diagnostic kits for developing countries. We want to greatly speed up the development of medicinal products and diagnostic kits for tropical diseases while reducing the associated risk for partners and investors,” said Jorg Janssen of TI Pharma. “As euSEND wants to bring the right research partners together, the risk for investors is significantly reduced. In this way, we hope to stimulate progress and renew interest also in this currently commercially uninteresting field."

As a first step, euSEND has intitated three projects with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND; Switzerland) that will focus on tuberculosis, leishmaniasis, which is an infectious disease transmitted by sand fly bites, and trachoma — the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness.