Medicines for Malaria Venture
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Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a not-for-profit public-private partnership, was established as a foundation in Switzerland in 1999. Its mission is to reduce the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and facilitating delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs. Its vision is a world in which these innovative medicines will cure and protect the vulnerable and under-served populations at risk of malaria, and help to ultimately eradicate this terrible disease.
MMV was launched in 1999, with initial seed finance of US$4 million from the Government of Switzerland, Department for International Development (UK), the Government of the Netherlands, The World Bank, and Rockefeller Foundation.
In 1999, the pipeline for new antimalarial drugs was virtually empty. The possibility of profit in antimalarial drug development was considered too low to attract pharmaceutical investment. Malaria was killing 1-2 million people a year, most of them children under five and pregnant women from the poorest regions of the world.
The drugs they were using no longer worked, and the need to act in the face of a projected public health disaster due to escalating drug resistance, provided reason to launch MMV and has since proved that the public-private partnership model is an efficient way to bridge the gap in new drugs for malaria.
Organization and governance
MMV is governed by a Board of Directors chosen for their scientific, medical and public health expertise in malaria and related fields, their research and management competence as well as their experience in business, finance and fundraising. The Chairman of the Board of MMV is Ray Chambers. MMV recently[when?] established a Board of Directors in North America.
MMV's project portfolio focuses on delivering efficacious medicines that are affordable, accessible, and appropriate for use in malaria endemic areas. Specifically, the goal is to develop products that will provide: efficacy against drug-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum, potential for intermittent treatments (infants and pregnancy), safety in small children (less than 6 months old), safety in pregnancy, efficacy against Plasmodium vivax (including radical cure), efficacy against severe malaria, and transmission-blocking treatment.
Adverse Effects and Patient Compliance
Some anti-malarial agents are known to have some side effects, which limits their use for mono-therapies only. This poses a limitation for their use in combination therapy, for overcoming drug resistance. Also, some of the side effects may lead to a low level of compliance by the patient, i.e. not completing the full course of treatment. This creates conditions within the patient that enable drug resistance to arise or even to become prevalent. In view of such situations it is often recommended that novel anti-malarial agents need to be discovered and developed.
Drug resistance occurs for several reasons, often as a natural consequence of gene mutations and selection, as a consequence of drug-efflux mechanisms, or due to drug modifying enzymes. Under conditions of medical treatment, mutants that are resistant to the drug may escape the drug's action, survive and multiply further. This is one of the reasons why combination therapies are often essential for treating malarial infections and most infectious diseases. In view of the contagious nature of malaria, spread by the mosquito, drug resistance is considered to be a serious public health issue.
Investigational New Drugs
Investigational new drugs (IND) are clinical candidates that are safe and efficacious in the animal models of infection. Usually, these are new chemical entities (NCE) with a novel mechanism of action. Investigational new drugs have to be approved by the national or international medical regulatory authorities, for clinical testing and development in humans. IND's are usually discovered and developed to overcome the limitations of drugs that are or have been in clinical use.
Research & Development Centre
Research and Development Centres (R&D) for infectious diseases usually are staffed with scientists and physicians in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, pharmacology, veterinary science and medicine. Depending on the number of projects, it is a common practice for these research and development Centres to be staffed with about 150 scientists and physicians, with an organizational framework that is appropriate for pharmaceutical research and development. In very specialized areas, the services of contract research organizations are exploited. Thereby new assets and intellectual property are developed and patented, and are published in leading scientific and medical journals. Keynote lectures are presented at scientific and medical conferences in the field of infectious diseases, worldwide.
Animal Health and Veterinary Medicine
In view of the similarities between the malaria parasite species that affect humans and other parasite species that affect animals, the high scope for synergy in discovering new medicines for veterinary infections is of special significance and importance. This is of special interest for live-stock such as cattle, poultry, and companion animals.
Access and delivery
MMV works in partnership to ensure the life-saving antimalarials emerging from its research-and-development pipeline do not suffer undue delays in reaching patients in need. MMV's access team focuses on assuring acceptance of new medicines, expanding reach to vulnerable patients and measuring and evaluating impact and need.
Open Source Malaria
MMV started the Open Source Malaria project, which encourages those interested to share procedures and results of open source research. The Open Source Malaria project received worldwide media attention after helping, together with researchers at the University of Sydney, to supervise high school students at Sydney Grammar School who adapted a synthesis of Daraprim (pyrimethamine), using a less hazardous method to improve safety, to illustrate the ability of enthusiastic amateurs to produce this drug. Daraprim has been marketed in the U.S. at $750 per pill due to non-patent exclusivity restrictions; the students synthesized it for under $20 USD.
- "OpenSourceMalaria". hosted at OpenWetWare.
- "Open Source Research". Medicines for Malaria Venture.
- University of Sydney (2016-11-30). "Breaking good: School students make costly drug cheaply using open source approach". Eurekalert.
- Ehsan Knopf (2016-12-01). "Sydney high school students spend $27 to recreate drug that has retailed for $148k". 9news.com.au.
- Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) — official website
- Medicine for Malaria Venture's Project Portfolio
- Roll Back Malaria Progress and Impact Series
- Report of the World Health Organization Expert Working Group on Research and Development Financing
- The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases 6th Report, 2010
- The Global Health Case Study Initiative
- Global Funding of Innovation for Neglected Diseases
- International Labour Organization
- European Bioinformatics Institute
- European Medicines Agency
- Food and Drug Administration
- Structural Genomics Consortium