The initial project goal is to explore the consortium's compound libraries for at least four promising seed compounds for each disease
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and four pharmaceutical firms, Eisai, Shionogi, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and AstraZeneca have announced the start of a ground-breaking initiative to accelerate and cut the cost of early stage drug discovery for two of the world's most neglected diseases, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.
The ‘Neglected Tropical Diseases Drug Discovery Booster' consortium, through a carefully engineered modus operandi, will circumvent early stage commercial barriers between the four pharmaceutical participants, allowing DNDi, for the first time, to search millions of unique compounds simultaneously, in the hunt for new treatment leads for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.
‘This experimental approach to radically modernize drug development for neglected diseases is the result of a decade of growing partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. This experiment could significantly reduce the time and money it takes to find new, promising treatment leads, and echoes the great potential of innovative research and development collaborations,' said Dr Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi.
The innovation of the Drug Discovery Booster not only lies in the multilateral approach, but also in the iterative nature of the search, meaning companies will continually examine their libraries for better matches as the search is refined. The Drug Discovery Booster has the potential to cut up to two years from the early drug discovery process, which takes approximately five years or more, and improve cost-efficiency across research activities.
The new process starts with DNDi providing all four companies with a common chemical starting point, the ‘seed' compound. This compound will have shown promising results against Leishmania or Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasites that cause leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, but may not yet be optimal for use as a future treatment. The four companies will then search their own full collections of high-quality chemical compounds for similar and potentially better molecules, and will select and send the most promising to DNDi, which will then have them screened for potential effectiveness against these two deadly parasitic diseases. The aim is to continually improve the effectiveness of the compounds.