Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Malaria drug research funding quadrupled over 16 years

The research group Policy Cures has a new analysis of malaria drug research and development that brings some encouraging news. The report says that funding for research has quadrupled over the last 16 years. Policy Cures says the huge influx of funding has helped to develop many possible drugs for the disease. The non-profit group recommends that current funding levels continue. They warn that a drop in donations could prevent those drugs from ever reaching those infected with malaria.

From Reuters Alert Net, writer Kate Kelland unpacks the study on malaria research for us.

The malaria product pipeline currently includes almost 50 drug development projects, one vaccine candidate in late-stage testing -- an experimental shot called RTS,S from GlaxoSmithKline -- and dozens of other vaccine candidates in various stages of development, the report said.

There are also many new insecticide ingredients for mosquito control and a new generation of simple, rapid, and highly sensitive diagnostic tests, it said.

"In the coming years, the fruits of this unprecedented investment in malaria research and development could save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives," said Awa Marie Coll-Seck, executive director of Roll Back Malaria (RBM), which commissioned the report. "This robust product pipeline gives us hope that eradication of malaria is possible."

She added that cutting funding now would be "a foolish waste of a historic opportunity." The total available for R&D in 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, was $612 million.

The report assessed progress against the R&D funding goals in a Global Malaria Action Plan set out by RBM in 2008, and estimated what would be needed in the coming decade to deliver the tools required to control, eliminate and eventually eradicate malaria.

It found that sustained, relatively modest increases are needed to boost annual funding to $690 million by 2015, and then called for a larger jump in 2016 to $785 million.

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