The ongoing MMV/Genzyme partnership also includes The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The team has begun to identify promising lead candidates, coming out of its innovative platform for high-throughput screening of several compound libraries. Among the kinds of compounds to be optimized, with the help of Advinus, are those active against key target enzymes that are essential for the survival of the malaria parasite.
"Malaria kills between one and two million people annually, with the majority of victims being children under five and pregnant women," said Dr. Chris Hentschel, president and chief executive officer of MMV. "New antimalarial agents are urgently needed to stop this unacceptable loss of life, with eradication as our long-term objective. The pipeline of new molecules that are effective against malaria must be made more robust so that we can develop the next generation of powerful treatments. MMV is excited to be working with innovative research organizations like Genzyme and Advinus to identify these very molecules."
Based in Bangalore, India, Advinus is a TATA-promoted life sciences research and development company with extensive expertise in pharmaceutical R&D. With the complementary skills and experience Advinus brings, the collaboration will focus on identifying new molecules effective at fighting malaria, from early-stage screening to the first steps of preclinical assessment. One important aim is to develop therapies to address the danger of emerging drug resistance that current antimalarial treatments increasingly face.
Dr. Rashmi Barbhaiya, chief executive officer of Advinus, said, "This collaboration once again confirms the commitment of Advinus and the TATA group to develop medicines for neglected diseases. India today is one of the few countries in the world that has not only the disease burden, but also the capability to research and develop new therapies for these diseases. Advinus, in particular, with its extensive drug discovery and development expertise, is uniquely positioned to work with MMV and Genzyme to address this crucial public health problem."
Genzyme, one of the worldâs leading biotechnology companies, established a formal presence in India last year to actively collaborate with private and public institutions in the country and the region. The company also supports efforts to discover and advance novel treatments for neglected diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness through its Humanitarian Assistance for Neglected Diseases (HAND) initiative. The company does not seek to profit from the commercialization of any products it helps to develop under this program.
"This collaboration is a powerful example of how industry can partner with others to fight the devastating impact of diseases affecting the developing world," said Henri A. Termeer, chairman and chief executive officer of Genzyme Corporation. "We look forward to our collaboration with Advinus as we extend our efforts to improve human health into developing regions like India. By bringing together the commitment of MMV with the drug discovery expertise of Genzyme and Advinus, we can turn the promise of science into meaningful and sustainable therapies for populations most at risk in India and around the world."
Advinus Therapeutics is a research based Pharma Company founded by some of the most eminent global Pharma executives and promoted by the TATA group. The company is the first of its kind in India to offer end to end development services to the global Pharma, Agro and Biotech industry while creating long term value through internal and collaborative Drug Discovery. The primary focus of the company's discovery efforts are in Metabolic Diseases and Inflammatory Diseases. Advinus also has an interest in pursuing the discovery of novel therapies for neglected or developing world diseases. Advinus' drug development operations support and supplement the client resources at increased levels of cost-efficiency by providing services in the areas of Process Development, Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Clinical Pharmacology, Safety Assessment, Formulation Development and Analytical R&D. For company information, visit Advinus at www.advinus.com.
About Medicines for Malaria Venture
Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) was established in 1999 as a not-for-profit organization created to discover, develop and deliver safe, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs through effective public-private partnerships. MMV's vision is a world in which affordable and effective medicines will cure and protect the millions at risk of malaria and help to ultimately eradicate this terrible disease.
MMV is currently managing the largestâever portfolio of antimalarial projects in collaboration with over 100 pharmaceutical, academic, and endemic-country partners. Its robust portfolio of around 40 projects includes 9 completely new classes of compounds in the discovery phase. Of the five projects in clinical development, three are artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs), which will be registered by stringent regulatory authorities and are expected to gain market authorization between 2008 and 2010.
About Genzyme Corporation
One of the world's leading biotechnology companies, Genzyme is dedicated to making a major positive impact on the lives of people with serious diseases. Since 1981, the company has grown from a small start-up to a diversified enterprise with more than 10,000 employees in locations spanning the globe and 2007 revenues of $3.8 billion. In 2007, Genzyme was chosen to receive the National Medal of Technology, the highest honor awarded by the President of the United States for technological innovation.
With many established products and services helping patients in nearly 90 countries, Genzyme is a leader in the effort to develop and apply the most advanced technologies in the life sciences. The company's products and services are focused on rare inherited disorders, kidney disease, orthopaedics, cancer, transplant, and diagnostic testing. Genzyme's commitment to innovation continues today with a substantial development program focused on these fields, as well as immune disease, infectious disease, and other areas of unmet medical need.
Genzymeâs press releases and other company information are available at www.genzyme.com.