Press Release

December 14, 2023

Investment of Approximately USD 8.8 Million for New Drug Development against Malaria in Partners including Marubeni and Eisai

• First investment in a Japanese trading company and a Chinese pharma company

• Accelerating new drug development by investing in late-phase clinical trials


The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced today an investment of approximately 1.3 billion yen (US$8.8 million1) for the development of new drugs for malaria and Chagas disease. 2


Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitos that affects approximately 250 million people annually and was responsible for approximately 620,000 deaths in 20213. The African region constitutes a staggering 95% of global malaria cases, and children under the age of 5 account for 80% of all malaria deaths in this region.


The GHIT Fund invests in new product development with the aim of contributing to global health by facilitating collaborations between Japanese technology and innovation and global institutions to address these neglected infectious diseases. This is the first investment by the GHIT Fund in a general trading company, Marubeni Corporation (Marubeni), and a pharmaceutical company in China, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Industrial Development Co., Ltd. (FOSUN PHARMA), with the aim of accelerating the development of new drugs by focusing on investments in late-phase clinical trials.


First investment in a Japanese trading company and a Chinese pharma company - new malaria drug in a Phase III trial by Marubeni, Fosun Pharma, MORU, and MMV

The GHIT Fund will invest approximately 500 million yen (US$3.3 million1) in a clinical phase III trial for a triple artemisinin combination drug against malaria, in partnership with a leading Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate, Marubeni, a major Chinese pharmaceutical and healthcare company, FOSUN PHARMA, a Thailand-based research collaboration of universities, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), and the product development partnership Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), which provides technical support and market access expertise.  


This drug candidate should have a significant public health benefit as it is expected to play an important role in the fight against artemisinin partial resistance (ART-R) which is now observed widely in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) of Southeast Asia4 and to some extent in several African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda. Importantly, the project includes the development of a co-formulated child-friendly version, given that most malaria cases are in children3.


800 million yen investment in a Phase IIb study of the new anti-malarial drug candidate SJ733 as a radical cure for P. vivax

The GHIT Fund will also invest approximately 800 million yen (US$5.4 million1) in the anti-malarial drug project by Eisai Co., Ltd. and the University of Kentucky to develop a radical cure for P. vivax malaria. SJ733, an antimalarial drug candidate, has completed a Phase IIa trial for single administration and has shown efficacy and tolerability against P. vivax malaria. With this new investment, the project aims to shorten the treatment period by using SJ733 in combination with the existing drug tafenoquine.


Dr. Osamu Kunii, CEO of the GHIT Fund, said “We are very excited to have Marubeni and FOSUN PHARMA as our new product development partners. It is an important step forward to invest in the development of antimalarial drugs in late-phase clinical trials to advance commercialization. The number of malaria cases and deaths in children under 5 years old is an urgent issue. This investment will make a significant contribution to reducing the burden of malaria globally, especially among young children.”


In addition, the GHIT Fund will invest approximately 16 million yen (US$0.1 million1) in Nagasaki University and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) for a screening project against Chagas disease, which is one of the neglected tropical diseases.  


As of December 14, 2023, there are 50 ongoing projects, including 19 discovery projects, 18 preclinical projects, and 13 clinical trials5 in the GHIT Fund’s portfolio. The total amount of investments since 2013 is 31.6 billion yen (US$211 million).



1 USD1 = JPY149.52, the approximate exchange rate on October 31, 2023.

2 These awarded projects were selected and approved as new investments from among proposals to RFP2023-001 for the Product Development Platform, which was open for applications from November 2022 to July 2023.

3 WHO (World Health Organization):

4 GMS comprises Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, and the People's Republic of China (PRC, specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region).

5 This number includes the projects in the registration phase.