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New prevention strategies: $28 million for research on intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi)
The foundation has committed $28 million to support a multinational consortium of research centers in the developing and developed world, working together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other multilateral organizations, to study intermittent preventive treatment in infants (IPTi) – a potential way to use existing malaria drugs to protect infants from the worst effects of the disease. Under this approach, infants receive an anti-malaria drug three times during the first year of life, at the time of routine immunization. An initial study completed in 2001 found that the intervention reduced malaria incidence in infants by 59 percent, and halved the incidence of severe anemia, the most frequent life-threatening form of malaria in this age group. This was achieved using an available and affordable anti-malaria drug – suggesting that IPTi could become an important new weapon against the disease. Studies will take place in Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, and other countries, with specific sites to be announced in the coming months.
New drugs: $40 million to the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)
About MMV: Based in Geneva, Switzerland, MMV is a nonprofit foundation that works to discover, develop, and deliver new drugs to combat drug-resistant malaria. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made a $25 million grant to MMV in March 2000.
Grant activities: The grant will provide resources for MMV to advance its impressive pipeline of 21 anti-malaria drug research and development projects, including support to accelerate the development of four promising candidate drugs with significant public health potential, all of which would be distributed through WHO as part of the Roll Back Malaria initiative.
Pediatric combination drug: MMV is working to develop a needed pediatric formulation of the artemisinin-derived drug artemether/lumefantrine to treat severe, complicated, drug-resistant malaria in young children.
DB289: MMV will support a Phase II trial in Thailand of DB289, a new class of compounds that are showing extremely promising pre-clinical activity against P. falciparum, the most virulent strain of malaria.
OZ (Synthetic Peroxide): This project is working to identify a potent, low-cost synthetic drug. The drug would be an affordable alternative to the most effective class of anti-malarial drugs available today – artemisinins – which are too costly to reach the millions who need them. MMV hopes to move a candidate drug into Phase I human trials by the second quarter of 2004.
Protein farnesyltransferase inhibition (Pf-PFT): MMV is supporting research on a new class of compounds to attack a previously unaddressed point in the life cycle of the malaria parasite.
Vaccines: $100 million to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI)
About MVI: As with many devastating infectious diseases, the ultimate weapon against malaria would be an effective vaccine. MVI works in partnership with governments, industry, and academia to accelerate the development of promising malaria vaccines and ensure their availability and accessibility in the developing world. A project of the Seattle-based Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), MVI was created in 1999 with a $50 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Grant activities: MVI will use the grant to expand the malaria vaccine development pipeline, move promising vaccine candidates quickly into clinical trials, and address financial and policy barriers to vaccine development.
Grant activities include:
Accelerating development of promising candidates: MVI will drive the development of malaria vaccine candidates against all stages of the parasite life cycle. A Phase II pediatric clinical trial began recently in Mozambique on the most advanced of these candidates, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals’ RTS,S/AS02A.
Supporting promising new studies: MVI will evaluate novel vaccine technologies and combination vaccines to assess their potential as future malaria vaccines.
Overcoming policy barriers: MVI will work to overcome obstacles to malaria vaccine development by pursuing innovative strategies for managing intellectual property, financing mechanisms to create a more certain market, and activities to bring additional funds to malaria vaccine development.