Molecule libraries to be screened for neglected diseases

Japanese pharmaceutical companies are opening up their libraries of experimental compound as part of a new partnership programme. The initiative aims to find new drugs for malaria, tuberculosis (TB) and neglected tropical diseases.

The idea is that the new Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund will provide money for partners to screen compounds from the companies’ collections, working with established screening programmes run by the Medicines for Malaria Venture, the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.

So far, the GHIT Fund involves Astellas Pharma, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Shinogi and Takeda, and is part-funded by the Japanese government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The move represents a shift in direction for Japanese companies, joining a growing movement worldwide for pharma companies to be more open in pre-competitive activities – allowing access to patents, screening information and other data, particularly relating to diseases that affect the world’s poorest people.