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UN-backed initiative boosts knowledge-sharing to combat neglected tropical diseases

WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.
WIPO/Emmanuel Berrod
WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

UN-backed initiative boosts knowledge-sharing to combat neglected tropical diseases

Announcing that more than 50 partners are now on board its partnership initiative to fight against neglected tropical diseases, tuberculosis and malaria, the United Nations intellectual property agency today hailed the watershed achievement as a significant step towards helping more than one billion people overcome such maladies.

“WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization] Re:Search and its partners are expanding their efforts to drive new medical innovations that will help millions of people around the world,” said Francis Gurry, WIPO Director General.

He added that “barely two years old, WIPO Re:Search is finding new ways to use intellectual property in the fight against some of the world’s most persistent, and neglected ailments.”

With Re:Search, WIPO and its Seattle-based partner BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), connect holders of intellectual property and other resources, such as pharmaceutical compounds, data and discovery techniques, with qualified researchers working on new treatments for neglected tropical diseases such as leprosy, river blindness and rabies, as well as malaria and tuberculosis.

Under the agreements, these resources are complimentary. To date, over 50 partnerships have been established, highlighting the programme’s rising influence in the public-health sector.

Underlining that partnership is the backbone for these effective coordinated efforts, Jennifer Dent, President of BVGH, also stressed the importance of a strong commitment and desire to share compounds and knowledge to help advance research and development for neglected diseases.

“Through these collaborations, WIPO Re:Search will make a difference in the lives of people living in endemic countries and that is the ultimate goal of consortia members,” Ms. Dent added.

While the 50th partner, GlaxoSmithKline plc, will provide researchers at India’s National Institute of Immunology with its Published Kinase Inhibitor Set 1 (PKIS1) to better understand liver-stage malaria parasites, two other new collaborators, Sanofi SA, and Pfizer Inc., will share compounds with researchers at Saint Louis University in the US to develop new anti-diarrheal treatments.

Moreover, WIPO Re:Search, with Australia’s financial support, has also arranged sabbaticals for African biomedical researchers to work in some of the world’s leading research facilities, such as Novartis AG in Switzerland, and Stanford University and the University of California San Francisco in the US.

Launched in 2011, WIPO Re:Search and BVGH have built a new consortium through which public and private sectors worldwide are making valuable intellectual property available to help develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccines for neglected tropical diseases that are most prevalent in developing countries. The programme is structured around three main areas of activity: global database, partnership hub, and supporting services.