GlaxoSmithKline Wins Medicines for Malaria Venture’s Project of the Year Award
Project Team Selects a Pyridone Drug Candidate for Preclinical Development
MAPUTO, Mozambique; 1 June 2004
Today, the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) announced the winner of its “Project of
the Year” award. GlaxoSmithKline's Pyridone project was chosen from among the 21
projects in MMV’s portfolio for its rapid and successful progress in finding a drug
candidate. The newly selected drug candidate is now moving on to pre-clinical
The Pyridone project is one of the four projects in the GSK/MMV 'mini-portfolio' research
collaboration (agreed in June 2003) which is investigating a number of new compounds
with promising antimalarial activities. The Pyridone project was selected unanimously by
MMV’s Expert Scientific Advisory Committee for its rapid success in moving through lead
optimization, a stage in drug discovery which identifies candidates for development
through the coordinated multidisciplinary work of chemists and biologists who prepare
and evaluate hundreds of compounds.
Announcing the prize, Dr.Pascoal Mocumbi, former Prime Minister of Mozambique and
board member of MMV said, “GlaxoSmithKline’s contribution to the healthcare of the
Developing countries is well established and recognised. We are delighted that we are
able to acknowledge their efforts by presenting them with this award highlighting a drug
discovery project that has progressed very rapidly due to the commitment, hard work and
dedication of the GSK team. This Pyridone compound has the potential to become a
major weapon against drug-resistant malaria.”
Pyridones are a novel class of compounds, which work by inhibiting electron transport in
Plasmodia, the protozoan causative agent of malaria. They could potentially represent an
advance over a related drug atovaquone, an effective antimalarial agent used in
combination for mainly the prevention of malaria. The selected candidate will now
undergo detailed preclinical safety assessment, chemical and pharmaceutical
development which, if successful, will lead to Phase I clinical studies where the tolerability
and pharmacokinetics in humans will be studied.
MMV established the “Project of the Year” award to recognize the efforts and dedication of the project teams for the contribution they are making in the fight against malaria. The
winner is selected by a committee of twelve experts in malaria and drug development.
“We are honoured to be chosen to receive this year’s award. This award is more than
just recognition for the team and the success of the project, it is a further proof that the
model of Public-Private Partnership really works,” Dr Federico Gomez de las Heras,
Director of the diseases of the developing world drug discovery unit at GSK. “Our
partnership with MMV is a win-win situation. Ultimately, it is the millions of malaria
sufferers who will benefit from our collaboration.”
MMV, a not-for-profit organisation, operates as a public-private partnership that seeks to
discover, develop and deliver new antimalarial drugs. It is now managing the largest
portfolio of malaria drug research in history with 21 projects in different stages of
development. Its 39 partners include academic institutes, biotech firms and pharmaceutical companies. Their in-kind contributions include their know-how, facilities and staff.
“We have in GSK, a model partner and this project exemplifies perfectly how the public and private sector can work together to facilitate drug development for malaria and other neglected diseases”, said Chris Hentschel, CEO of MMV. “The GSK/MMV 'mini-portfolio'
research collaboration has the added advantage of conducting drug discovery with an industrial partner who has the flexibility to move resources to more promising projects such as the Pyridone. The result is a project that can move faster and has better chances of becoming a future antimalarial drug.”
Although malaria is a curable disease if promptly diagnosed and properly treated, it is still causing more than 1 million deaths every year. Its resurgence since the late 1970’s is
mainly due to multi-drug resistance. The efficacy of the most commonly available treatments such as chloroquine and SP is compromised by resistance. Today, there are more cases of malaria in Africa than any time in recorded history. Beyond the human toll, malaria costs Africa at least US$12 billion in lost GDP and consumes an estimate 40% of the public health spending.
GlaxoSmithKline - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies - is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.
GSK is committed to playing a leading role in addressing the healthcare crisis in the developing world. GSK believes it is the only company researching new vaccines and treatments for all three of the WHO’s priority diseases in the developing world – HIV/AIDS,
Malaria and TB. GSK has 16 clinical development programmes for diseases of relevance to the developing world and a number of pre clinical projects. For more information on GSK’s R&D for diseases of the developing world please see:
Medicines for Malaria Venture
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