• Japan fund invests $11.4M to fight malaria, TB

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    JAPAN-based public-private partnership Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) has issued funding totaling $11.4 million for six research projects to fight malaria and tuberculosis (TB), the investment firm announced late last month.

    Part of GHIT Fund’s new investments, $1.8 million, will go to a continuing research project to develop antimalarial drugs, which is being carried out by a partnership between Swiss-based Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a product development partnership in the field of antimalarial drug research, and major Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd. GHIT Fund has been financing this project since the fund’s establishment three years ago, the company said.

    According to information from Daiichi Sankyo, the ongoing research seeks to identify and develop new drugs that could cure malaria-infected patients of both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax with a single dose.

    The largest single investment among the latest tranche from GHIT Fund was $7.5 million, which will go to Japan’s largest pharmaceutical company Takeda Pharmaceuticals.

    “This investment will support progression of a malaria drug known as DSM421 up to Phase IIa clinical trials,” GHIT Fund explained.

    Another smaller investment of $600,000 was made to Japan’s Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation and MMV as part of GHIT Fund’s Hit-to-Lead platform, which optimizes the hit chemical compounds that were identified in the screening platform, the company said.

    In addition, GHIT Fund made two new investments into tuberculosis research. The first was to a research group comprising scientists from Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, and Chile, for the development of an early-stage TB vaccine that would be given intranasally, making it easier to administer and less costly than the standard injectable vaccine.

    Finally, GHIT Fund provided $200,000 in funding for researchers at the Japan-based RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies and the United Nations’ International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, who are studying how tuberculosis survives and replicates in humans—particularly in those who, while infected with latent tuberculosis, stay immune their entire lives.

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