World Malaria Day: Netherlands-based consortium teams up with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) in world-leading malaria translational research programme

Dutch life science public-private partnership organization, Lygature, and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) Monday announced the establishment of a Netherlands-based translational research consortium that will target the development of next-generation medicines to help eradicate malaria.

With funding from the Dutch government plus co-funding offered by MMV, this large-scale new research initiative will focus on the early-stage development (hit-to-lead and lead optimization) of potential drugs for malaria transmission blocking and relapse prevention. Lygature will manage the Netherlands consortium programme to maximize its focus on the translation of research results into tangible antimalarial solutions.

Globally, malaria kills one child every 2 minutes. However, because it predominantly affects people in the poorest areas of the world, research into effective ways to cure or prevent the spread of the disease has typically been under-funded relative to the scale of the problem. 

Building partnerships, such as the one announced today by Lygature and MMV, offers a solution to the funding issue and also allows the bridging of any gaps in the required expertise. Financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the ’Product Development Partnership II Fund’, the new consortium will work on researching malaria drugs for transmission blocking and relapse prevention – widely regarded as two critical pathways to ultimate eradication of the disease. Among a wide range of deliverables, the consortium is expected to deliver the Netherlands’ first antimalarial preclinical drug candidate by the end of the programme in 2018.

“Malaria is a disease that predominantly affects some of the poorest areas of the world, and there is a strong body of evidence suggesting that eradicating the disease would go a long way towards alleviating that poverty,” says Herman Verheij, Programme Manager at Lygature. “Thanks to significantly renewed funding from the Dutch government for research into neglected diseases, this new collaboration with MMV gives us the opportunity to leverage the Netherlands’ life-science expertise in the worldwide fight against this devastating disease.”  

“One organization alone cannot defeat malaria. Partnerships are the only way forward,” commented Tim Wells, Chief Scientific Officer at MMV. “We are extremely pleased to be working with Lygature so that we can intensify our efforts to combat malaria with Dutch research expertise as well as funding from The Netherlands. The greater the number of candidate drugs we can introduce into clinical development, the higher the chances of building a needs-based antimalarial medicine chest that will block the spread of malaria, prevent relapsing malaria and save countless lives.” 

Lygature will contribute its extensive experience in scientific programme management and MMV will contribute its broad antimalarial drug research and development experience and know-how. The Netherlands already has significant expertise in malaria research in terms of assay and drug development, and strong links with African institutes in malaria-endemic countries. 

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