A strategic partnership between UCT's Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV will identify and address advanced drug development in Africa and build understanding of how different African populations metabolise drugs.
The new partnership will target drugs aimed at diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, which are rife in Africa.
“Defeating tuberculosis, malaria and other diseases that impact Africa is one of the greatest public health challenges facing humankind today,” said Professor Kelly Chibale, founder and director of H3D. “We need to reach a level of innovation and collaboration that has never been achieved before in Africa.”
Chibale is also the founding director of the South African Medical Research Council Drug Discovery and Development Research Unit at UCT. H3D, the first integrated drug discovery and development centre in Africa, which pioneers world-class drug discovery, is known for its breakthrough research on malaria. In 2012 the first compound was approved by Medicines for Malaria Venture as a preclinical, anti-malarial development candidate. It has now completed phase 1 human trials.
Next drug breakthroughs
“Our partnership with Janssen represents the kind of commitment required to achieve the next breakthroughs and deliver new medicines to millions of people threatened by these diseases,” said Chibale.
The collaboration with Janssen will focus on the continuum of early drug development ranging from formulation and metabolism to early clinical development. It will pair researchers and functional experts at H3D and UCT with counterparts at Janssen Pharmaceutica NV. (The company is one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.)
The partnership was announced on 6 April 2016 in Cape Town at the official launch of Johnson & Johnson's Global Public Health (GPH) Strategy and New GPH Operations in Africa.
Benefits of collaboration
Dr Wim Parys, Janssen's global head of Global Public Health Research & Development, said: “Through our collaboration with UCT and its world-class drug development centre, we have a unique opportunity. We will combine our strengths and expertise to expand the science of drug development by understanding some of the key regional and disease factors that can affect drug disposition, safety and effectiveness applicable to both the African and global populations.”
Chibale said there were considerable benefits for H3D in building a partnership with Janssen. These include access to new chemical matter and having a pharmaceutical industry partner to work with in screening for new drug discovery starting points. This would enable H3D to build a larger portfolio of projects to work on, which is an essential component for early drug discovery efforts.
“The access to expanded compound collections with Janssen will do much to maintain a fresh pipeline of projects.” He said this was one of the key ingredients in developing momentum in building the drug discovery and development industry in Africa.
How Africans metabolise drugs
Janssen's expertise dovetails with one of H3D's objectives: understanding how African patient populations metabolise drugs and ensuring that medicines and doses are appropriately developed for patients in Africa. Coupled with the integrated nature of H3D's state-of-the-art drug discovery platforms, this would give H3D a distinctive ability that does not exist elsewhere in the world.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (research and internationalisation) Professor Danie Visser said the partnership was expected to have a reach way beyond the university, as researchers who train at H3D will collaborate with the drug discovery and development industry throughout the African continent.
“In the realm of early clinical development, the UCT Division of Clinical Pharmacology and the Clinical Research Centre are recognised as premier pharmacology units in Africa. Involving Janssen in 'best practice' site visits and rotations would afford world-class validation and expansion of UCT's capabilities in clinical pharmacology.”
Story Kim Cloete. Photo Michael Hammond.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.