The Lancet Infectious Diseases published Phase 2 results on Tuesday comparing different durations and doses of benznidazole (a standard of care for Chagas disease) alone or in combination with the antifungal fosravuconazole. According to a press release from the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), which led the study, a two-week benznidazole Chagas treatment had “similar efficacy and significantly fewer adverse effects” than the current standard eight-week regimen of the…

Inovio announced Tuesday that it has dosed the first participant in a West Africa-based Phase 1b trial of its INO-4500 DNA vaccine against Lassa fever.

The Pennsylvania-based company said it hopes to make the shot available for emergency use “as [a] stockpile product following Phase 2.” The candidate—delivered through Inovio’s Cellectra “smart device”—generated robust antibody and T cell immune responses in previous U.S.-based Phase 1 trials, the press release noted.



Four pharma companies recently announced moves to increase access to medicines.

Ahead of World Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Day (January 30), Novartis renewed its leprosy multidrug therapy donation program with WHO—extending the commitment by five years to the end of 2025. The agreement also includes the donation of fascioliasis drug triclabendazole.

On the same day, Germany’s Merck KGaA announced that it will provide an additional 8 million tablets of praziquantel per year…

Sanofi announced an extension on Tuesday of its 20-year partnership with WHO on human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), valuing the new commitment at $25 million over the next five years.

The funds will support disease management, population screening, an awareness campaign, capacity building and drug donation, according to a press release.

Sanofi produces the current HAT standard-of-care—the oral, 10-day fexinidazole regimen—and is working with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases…


The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) announced new funding this week from Spain’s la Caixa: a grant of $1.2 million over three years to identify “novel natural products” as potentially effective treatments for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.

DNDi will share the funding with project coordinator Fundación MEDINA and Institut Pasteur Korea, the joint press release said.

WHO’s Guideline Development Group recommended last week against universal mass drug administration campaigns of azithromycin to prevent childhood mortality, favoring instead a targeted approach for infants younger than 12 months in sub-Saharan countries with high childhood mortality.

WHO said that in making its decision, it weighed the benefits of decreased mortality shown in three randomized trials (including the extensive, ongoing MORDOR study) against the potential for drug…


The U.S. FDA this week added brucellosis (undulant fever), opisthorchiasis (liver fluke infection) and paragonimiasis (lung fluke infection) to its list of tropical diseases for purposes of priority review voucher awards because of the lack of a “significant market in developed nations” for treatments. Meanwhile, the agency dropped coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever) and clonorchiasis (Chinese liver fluke infection) for the opposite reason.

In other NTD news, researchers from Britain’s…

Germany’s Merck KGaA announced last week that it is partnering with J&J-subsidiary Janssen to develop an AI-based schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths diagnostic that uses an automated microscope and data visualization tool to replace error-prone manual laboratory egg counts. The press release said prototype testing will continue throughout 2020 and “move into the clinical utility testing phase in 2021 through 2023.”

In other news, recently launched Japan-based Uniting…

Japan’s nonprofit Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) launched a new RFP this week calling for novel drugs, diagnostics and vaccines for malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases to “address health needs in the developing world or fill a gap in global health technologies for infectious diseases.”

Applications are due July 29 and full proposals August 17.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis announced last week that the U.S. National Institutes of Health has given it $5 million to analyze the genetic code of the two parasites that cause onchocerciasis and fascioliasis.

The project will use large-scale genome sequencing to develop tools to help monitor the spread of the diseases, track resistance and possibly elicit new therapy leads, the press release said.