A New Consortium of Public and Private Sector Organizations, Drives Research and Development Partnerships with Neglected Tropical Disease Researchers

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in an unprecedented collaboration with leading pharmaceutical companies and BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), launched on 25 October 2011 a new consortium where public and private sector organizations share valuable intellectual property (IP) and expertise with the global health research community to promote the development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. This project is called WIPO Re:Search.
This project brings together Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, AstraZeneca, Eisai, GlaxoSmithKline, MSD1, Novartis, Pfizer and Sanofi who are collaborating with WIPO, BVGH, the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH), and multiple non-profit research organizations. These latter include the California Institute of Technology, the Center for World Health & Medicine, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Medicines for Malaria Venture, PATH, the South African Medical Research Council, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Dundee (UK).
“WIPO Re:Search is a ground-breaking example of how a multi-stakeholder coalition can put IP to work for social benefit,” said WIPO Director-General Francis Gurry. “By joining WIPO Re:Search, companies and researchers commit to making selected intellectual property assets available under royalty-free licenses to qualified researchers anywhere in the world for research and development on neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. This commitment should accelerate the development of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics for these diseases.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), neglected tropical diseases today impair the lives of an estimated 1 billion people. WHO provides technical advice to WIPO on public health issues and research priorities, as appropriate.
By providing a searchable, public database of available intellectual property assets, information and resources, WIPO Re:Search facilitates new partnerships with organizations that conduct research on treatments for neglected tropical diseases, malaria and tuberculosis.
Membership in WIPO Re:Search as a user, provider or supporter is open to all organizations that endorse, adhere to and support the project’s Guiding Principles. These Guiding Principles include the commitment that IP licensed via WIPO Re:Search will take place on a royalty-free basis for research and development on neglected tropical diseases in any country, and on a royalty-free basis for the sale of neglected tropical disease medicines in, or to, least-developed countries.
“The innovative pharmaceutical industry has an important part to play in addressing unmet medical needs, and increasing access to our collective proprietary information will help advance research into treatment options for these underserved diseases,” said David Brennan, CEO of AstraZeneca and President of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA). “WIPO Re:Search has the potential to make a real impact on global health, which is why we are proud to make all patents owned by AstraZeneca available to this important initiative for promoting the research and development of treatments for neglected tropical diseases anywhere in the world.”
The WIPO Re:Search database includes a wide variety of contributions relevant to malaria, tuberculosis, and other neglected tropical diseases, including individual compounds and associated data, screening hits from compound libraries, and expertise and know-how in pharmaceutical research and development. In addition, WIPO Re:Search offers the opportunity for neglected tropical disease researchers to work directly with scientists at pharmaceutical companies to advance R&D on these diseases. As WIPO Re:Search moves forward, offerings from current partners will continue to grow and new providers are expected to join to add to the wealth of information, compounds and services available.
“NIH licenses its patents to enable the private sector to develop diagnostics, therapeutics and devices that improve public health,” said National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD. “We want to ensure that our biological materials and patents covering treatments or vaccines for neglected tropical diseases, as with all diseases, are available as broadly as possible to speed the development of new products for people who are most burdened by these diseases, and WIPO Re:Search helps us to do this.” The founding eight pharmaceutical companies, WIPO, BVGH, and NIH are joined by a distinguished group of globally recognized institutions as providers, potential users and supporters of WIPO Re:Search. BVGH will manage the WIPO Re:Search Partnership Hub, which will facilitate relationships between the pharmaceutical company providers and new users.
“In our role as administrator of the WIPO Re:Search Partnership Hub, BIO Ventures for Global Health is excited to bring these new opportunities to neglected disease researchers around the world to accelerate their work in this area of critical unmet need,” said Don Joseph, Chief Operating Officer of BVGH. “As both present and future providers evaluate their internal data and IP with the goal to provide focused information which they believe will best serve the neglected tropical disease research and development community, WIPO Re:Search will build on previous R&D investments to speed the development of drugs, vaccines and diagnostics for the neglected diseases that disproportionately impact people living in resource-poor countries.”