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2023-12-18| Funding

GHIT Fund Invests $8.8 Million in Novel Malaria Drugs

by Sinead Huang
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The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund has allocated approximately $8.8 million for the development of new drugs combating malaria and Chagas disease. This investment, unveiled on December 14, 2023, marks GHIT’s foray into collaborating with Marubeni Corporation and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Industrial Development Co., Ltd. (FOSUN PHARMA), signifying its first partnership with a Japanese trading company and a Chinese pharmaceutical entity. GHIT aims to leverage Japanese technology, innovation, and global partnerships to address neglected infectious diseases, with a primary focus on malaria.

Related article: Novartis Shifts Gear To Phase 3 For Anti-Malaria Drug

Advancing Artemisinin Combination Drug in the Fight Against Malaria

GHIT Fund’s investment of around $3.3 million will fuel a crucial clinical Phase III trial for a triple artemisinin combination drug against malaria. Collaborating with Marubeni, FOSUN PHARMA, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), the project targets artemisinin partial resistance (ART-R) prevalent in Southeast Asia and some African nations. With a special emphasis on creating a child-friendly version, the initiative aims to significantly impact public health and reduce the burden of malaria, particularly among young children.

Earmarking an investment of approximately $5.4 million, GHIT Fund supports Eisai Co., Ltd. and the University of Kentucky in their endeavor to develop a radical cure for P. vivax malaria using the antimalarial drug candidate SJ733. Having completed a Phase IIa trial, the drug has demonstrated efficacy and tolerability against P. vivax malaria. The new investment aims to expedite treatment by combining SJ733 with the existing drug tafenoquine, addressing a critical need for an effective cure for P. vivax malaria. Dr. Osamu Kunii, CEO of GHIT Fund, emphasized the urgency of tackling malaria cases and deaths in children under 5, underlining the significance of this investment in global malaria reduction efforts.

GHIT Fund’s Diverse Investments Against Neglected Tropical Diseases

Beyond malaria, GHIT Fund allocates approximately $0.1 million to Nagasaki University and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) for a screening project against Chagas disease, exemplifying a holistic approach to neglected tropical diseases. With a current portfolio comprising 50 ongoing projects, including discovery projects, preclinical projects, and clinical trials, GHIT Fund’s cumulative investments since 2013 reach $211 million. This underscores the commitment of the Japan-based international public-private partnership to harness Japanese expertise for creating impactful solutions against a spectrum of neglected diseases affecting vulnerable populations worldwide.

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