Merck KGaA announced last week a contract with Strides Pharma’s Nairobi subsidiary Universal to manufacture the German multinational’s new pediatric schistosomiasis formulation, arpraziquantel.

Undergoing Phase 3 trials in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, the candidate is orally dispersible and more child-friendly than praziquantel, its precursor and the current standard of care, according to the press release.

Merck KGaA said the agreement will build up “extensive production capacities…

Seoul’s International Vaccine Institute (IVI) on Monday touted its Gates Foundation award to develop an adaptive trial design protocol for a Phase 1b/2a study of a schistosomiasis vaccine candidate.

A first-in-human safety study of SchistoShield (Sm-p80)—co-developed with Gates funding by Texas Tech and PAI Life Sciences, and using the GLA-SE adjuvant from IDRI—is slated to take place in the United States, followed by a Phase 1b safety and immunogenicity study in Burkina Faso and…


The Access to Medicine (AtM) Foundation last week published a pediatric analysis of additional results from its 2021 AtM Index, finding just 7% of pharmaceutical companies’ R&D is for children under 12, despite significant gaps in treatment options for children.

The report praised GSK, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi for being “the most active” in developing pediatric versions of products, and also named examples of drugs that “could each make a big difference” for LMICs: Eli…

The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium announced new funding last month from Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership.

The separate awards—worth a combined $9.3 million—will fund the ADOPT program, dedicated to “wide acceptance and equitable access” for a child-friendly dispersible tablet formulation of schistosomiasis drug praziquantel.

With backers including Astellas, Farmanguinhos and Merck…

Japan’s nonprofit Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund) on Monday announced $13 million in drug and diagnostic investments.

Three of the seven awards will support new projects for malaria drug development and tests for schistosomiasis and Buruli ulcers. The remaining four will go toward ongoing projects to develop drugs for leishmaniasis, Chagas and soil-transmitted helminths and a rapid diagnostic for malaria.

GHIT Fund’s portfolio now includes 50 ongoing…

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…

Britain allocated $274 million in funding this week to provide 600 million treatments against lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis and trachoma.

A Department for International Development press release said the support was a “vital step” towards eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including the specific goal to rid Asia of visceral leishmaniasis by 2022.

The funds are part of Britain’s 2017 pledge of almost $450 million to…


Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) announced last week that it has appointed BMS executive Catherine Ohura as its new CEO and executive director, effective April 1. Ohura replaces founding CEO BT Slingsby, who announced last September that he would be stepping down at the end of Japan’s 2018 fiscal year (March 2019).

Last week, GHIT also announced $25.8 million in new product development funding for malaria, TB, dengue, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis. The…

Japan’s Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund and the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership announced support this week for clinical trials of a schistosomiasis treatment for children. The Phase 3 study, sponsored by Merck KGaA and conducted by the Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium, will evaluate the efficacy and safety of a new tablet formulation in preschool-aged children in Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire.

Separately, Merck KGaA also announced that it has…


Merck KGaA announced this week that it is partnering with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital Center to research, develop and manufacture new vaccines for neglected and emerging diseases.

According to Merck, the partnership will bring vaccines “through development to efficiently deliver them to societies in need.”

The partnership is focusing first on a schistosomiasis vaccine.