GHIT Fund Announces New Investments: A Total of 790 Million Yen for Product Development of Neglected Tropical Diseases
The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced today a total of approximately 790 million yen (US$5.3 million*) to invest in product development for lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis,two neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).** (Appendix 1)
“Even in the midst of a pandemic, GHIT Fund is committed to advancing product development to contribute to global health with Japanese technologies and innovation for patients suffering from neglected diseases by strengthening partnerships with product development partners and funding partners.” said Dr. Osamu Kunii, CEO of GHIT Fund.
Neglected tropical diseases caused by parasitic infection: New drug development for lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis
Lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are two neglected tropical diseases that are caused by parasitic worms. These diseases affect more than 86 million people globally. Existing drugs principally target the young worms and not the adult worms. This means that sustained and prolonged delivery with high treatment coverage to endemic communities is required to break the transmission cycle of the long-living adult worms.
Through an investment project by the GHIT Fund, which started in 2013, the project team has already demonstrated that adult worms can be killed by eliminating a symbiotic bacterium that they contain called Wolbachia.
This time, approximately 790 million yen (US$5.3 million*) will be invested to continue the development of the new drug through a Phase II clinical trial to evaluate its efficacy in patients suffering from onchocerciasis.
As of November 11, there are 61 ongoing projects, including 28 discovery, 20 preclinical and 13 clinical trials, in the GHIT portfolio (Appendix 2). The total amount of investments since 2013 is 28.4 billion yen (US$191 million).
* USD1 = JPY¥148.28, the approximate exchange rate on October 31, 2022.
** These awarded projects were selected from a number of proposals to the RFP2022-001 for Target Research Platform, Screening Platform, Hit-to-Lead Platform, and Product Development Platform, which was open for applications from November 2021 to July 2022.
The GHIT board conducted in July 2022 approved these new investments.