As part of the agreement, signed earlier this year, both parties will work together to identify, characterize and optimize new candidate compounds to treat malaria and conduct early development programs to demonstrate proof of concept in men. The three-year research project agreement, called "Orthology Malaria," aims to develop drug candidates from a set of sanofi-aventis' compounds that have been selected for their potential activity against malaria parasites. Each stage of the project will be evaluated by the sanofi-aventis/MMV joint steering committee and assessed according to MMV's criteria for compound progression.
"Sanofi-aventis has a long standing history in the pursuit of novel anti-malarial compounds, which are essential to save the lives of more than 750,000 people annually. By joining forces with MMV in the search for innovative anti-malarial drugs, sanofi-aventis will stay one step ahead in the fight against the malaria parasites that are beginning to show resistance to existing treatments," said Dr. Elias Zerhouni, President, Global Research & Development, sanofi-aventis. "This new partnership will enable us to mobilize each organization’s expertise, resources and know-how to identify novel medicines for malaria patients."
"The development of new malaria medicines requires the existence of a generous cache of promising compounds of which only a handful will emerge as groundbreaking treatments, after a series of rigorous trials," said David Reddy, CEO, Medicines for Malaria Venture. "Working with the committed sanofi-aventis team will help us fill that cache. Given the emerging threat of resistance to artemisinin in S.E. Asia, now, more than ever before, we need to ensure we have alternatives to artemisinin in the medicine chest, to fight this terrible disease."
Malaria is a parasitic disease, transmitted among humans via the intermediary of the Anopheles mosquito. Malaria causes attacks of fever and various other disorders. The parasite, known as Plasmodium, colonizes and destroys red blood cells. It is the destruction of the latter that leads to malaria attacks, the symptoms of which are: sudden appearance of fever, fatigue, headaches, shivering, vomiting, etc.
Malaria atacks can sometimes become severe, leading to serious anemia, convulsions, coma, and even death. It is estimated that malaria causes more than 750,000 deaths a year of which over 90% are in Africa and 85% are children under the age of five. Most of these deaths are due to lack of access to effective anti-malarials and erratic patient compliance.
Sanofi-aventis involvement in malaria
Sanofi-aventis' presence in the field of malaria dates back to the 1930s with the production of quinine derivatives. Today, sanofi-aventis is a leader in the fight against this disease through its Access to Medicines' "Impact malaria" initiative. Because resistance to existing drugs will inevitably develop, constant search for novel compounds is essential. Thus, in 2010, sanofi-aventis Research and Development has created a Therapeutic Strategic Unit dedicated to new anti-infectives. Its scope includes multiresistant bacterial infections, but also tropical neglected diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. This unit manages several candidate drugs for uncomplicated and severe malaria, developed in partnership with academic institutions and research programmes.
About Medicines for Malaria Venture
Medicines for Malaria Venture, a not-for-profit public-private partnership, was established as a foundation in Switzerland in 1999. It is dedicated to the reduction of the malaria burden in diseaseendemic countries with the discovery, development and delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs. Our vision is a world in which these innovative medicines will cure and protect the vulnerable and under- served populations at risk of malaria, and help to ultimately eradicate this terrible disease.
MMV's strength comes from its product development partnership (PDP) model reflected in its network of more than 140 pharmaceutical, academic and endemic-country partners in 37 countries. MMV also works in close partnership with a number of WHO programmes that include TDR, the Global Malaria Programme (GMP) and Roll Back Malaria (RBM).
MMV is currently managing the largest portfolio of antimalarial R&D projects ever assembled. Of over 50 promising projects, two MMV-supported artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), Eurartesim™ and Pyramax®, are awaiting regulatory approval by the European Medicines Agency in 2011. In November 2010, Guilin's artesunate injection for the treatment of severe malaria was approved by the WHO's Prequalification programme with assistance from MMV. In addition, a child-friendly version of the ACT Coartem, was developed by Novartis in partnership with MMV and launched in 2009. In the first 20 months following the introduction of Coartem® Dispersible, more than 55 million courses of treatment were supplied to children in malaria-endemic countries.
The key to MMV's success lies in the focus of its mission, the diversity of its team, its industry-style portfolio management and wise administration of funds. It manages over USD 515 million received and committed from long-term donors such as government agencies, private foundations - primarily, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, international organizations, and corporate foundations. In addition, it receives in-kind donations in the form of staff, facilities, and technology from its industry partners, estimated to be equal in dollar value to the funds from donors.
Sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. Sanofi-aventis is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).