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Biological Chemistry

Drug Firms Unveil Infectious-Disease Projects

by Lisa M. Jarvis
July 20, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 29

Big pharma firms are upping their commitment to medicines for infectious diseases that disproportionately impact developing countries. Novartis and the nonprofit Institute for OneWorld Health will work together to develop drugs to treat secretory diarrhea, which kills more children in developing countries than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. The three-year agreement focuses on finding molecules that block the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator chloride channel, which controls hydration in mucous membranes and becomes hyperactive in secretory diarrhea. Novartis will take on all research costs, and OneWorld will then pay for the clinical development of any molecules discovered. OneWorld has been collaborating with Roche since 2008 to screen its compound library for potential infectious-diarrhea treatments. Separately, GlaxoSmithKline unveiled a series of moves designed to help the more than 2 million children living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. GSK has established an $80 million fund that over 10 years will support nongovernmental organizations working to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Another $16 million will be doled out for use in partnerships to develop antiretroviral drugs for children. GSK will also include abacavir, which it markets as Ziagen, under its voluntary licensing policy.


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