The first new tuberculosis drug in 40 years has successfully treated multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) patients in a clinical trial in South Africa. More…
Biotech industry can help tackle neglected diseases
Source: Nature Biotechnology
17 April 2009 | EN
Biotech can inject innovation into neglected-disease product development
Argonne National Laboratory/Flickr
The biotech industry provides rich resources and expertise that could help tackle neglected diseases, say Joanna E. Lowell and Christopher D. Earl from BIO Ventures for Global Health in Washington DC.
Biotech has several advantages over the pharmaceutical industry, argue the authors. Companies are younger and more entrepreneurial so can take higher risks, are focused on innovation, and specialise in creating methods to find drug targets that should be amenable to drug discovery for neglected diseases. Biotech companies have become the engines of innovation for global pharmaceutical development, say the authors.
Many neglected diseases — including malaria, tuberculosis and lymphatic filariasis — suffer from an ‘innovation gap’, where too few drug discovery programmes are in place to ensure a steady stream of approved treatments. More drug discovery is critical to sustaining a pipeline of new medicines — and it could come from the biotech industry, argue the authors.
But to get involved, biotech companies need educating about the opportunities, incentives and markets available to the application of their technologies. Connecting companies to academic experts who understand the biology of neglected diseases, and with larger companies accustomed to running clinical trials in the developing world, is also essential.
In a genetic leap that could help fast track vaccine and drug development to prevent or tame serious global diseases, DMS researchers have discovered how to destroy a key DNA pathway in a wily and widespread human parasite. The feat surmounts a major hurdle for targeting genes in Toxoplasma gondii, an infection model whose close relatives are responsible for diseases that include malaria and severe diarrhea.
Global tuberculosis control – epidemiology, strategy, financing
WHO Report 2009
WHO’s report on Global TB Control compiles data from over 200 countries and territories each year, monitoring the scale and direction of TB epidemics, implementation and impact of the Stop TB Strategy, and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
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