Novartis on Thursday endorsed the Kigali Declaration on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and announced a five-year financial commitment of USD 250 million to the fight against NTDs and malaria in conjunction with the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs alongside the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting.
“Over the past decade, great progress has been made against NTDs, but there is still a lot more work to be done. Novartis will continue progressing our longstanding commitment to helping realize a world free of NTDs. Today, by endorsing the Kigali Declaration and pledging to invest USD 250 million, we aim to accelerate progress toward elimination of these diseases, which continue to cause suffering and stigma for millions of people around the globe,” said Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis said in a statement.
According to its press statement, Novartis was among the original endorsers of the London Declaration on NTDs in 2012, committing to a multidrug therapy (MDT) donation to support global efforts to eliminate leprosy. By endorsing the Kigali Declaration today, Novartis reaffirms its commitment to the fight against NTDs and malaria, the pharma major claims.
Furthermore, as part of the commitment over five years (2021-2025), Novartis will invest USD 250 million to advance research and development (R&D) of new treatments to combat NTDs and malaria. Meanwhile, this includes USD 100 million to advance R&D of its neglected tropical disease program, focusing on novel drug candidates for four diseases.
In collaboration with Wellcome, the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) is working to discover novel, curative anti-parasitic therapies for Chagas disease. The company also stated that they are collaborating with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), with earlier support from Wellcome, to jointly develop LXE408 for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis, and are currently entering Phase II clinical development.
“We also made progress on a potential first-in-class compound to treat dengue fever, which is currently in Phase I clinical trial. Although this is the most common vector-borne viral disease in the world, there is currently no specific treatment for dengue. Cryptosporidium infection is the most prevalent form of parasitic diarrhea, a major cause of mortality among young children in developing countries. The NITD has discovered a promising drug candidate, EDI048, currently in Phase I clinical development,” it stated.
Globally, 1.7 billion people suffer from NTDs, which are prevalent in tropical areas and mostly affect impoverished communities, causing devastating health, social and economic consequences. The NITD was established in 2001 within the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) to apply modern drug discovery technologies to finding new therapeutics for NTDs and malaria. According to the 2021 World Malaria Report, there were 241 million cases of malaria and 627,000 malaria deaths in 2020. Children under 5 are particularly at risk, and malaria takes the life of a child every minute in Africa.