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The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) takes the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Development Cooperation category
Date:2/26/2013

m Brazil to India; one to combat sleeping sickness – NECT, replacing previous toxic or more expensive treatments; a further two against visceral leishmaniasis – of shorter duration and now being distributed in East Africa and Asia; and a sixth against Chagas disease – a new pediatric dosage form of an existing treatment developed with a public laboratory in Brazil.

Pécoul is especially proud of the new sleeping sickness treatment: "It has meant a huge change. I spent over 20 years with Médecins Sans Frontières, and it was tough walking into a hospital and knowing that the drug in use – an arsenic derivative – was so toxic that it killed 5 percent of the patients it was supposed to cure. But we had no alternative because the disease killed 100 percent."

The jury stressed that DNDi's work encompasses the design, evaluation, registration, production and implementation of drugs under the strictest standards of quality and safety, and collaborating with public and private organizations on the ground to ensure a successful delivery.  

Pécoul highlights a recent shift in the flow of research. "It used to be that research was generated in the north then applied in the south. But we have now extended our model to enable more interaction between the countries of the south, so they help each other mutually. In the future, this could mean, for instance, that the solution for Chagas patients in Spain comes from Brazil or Argentina."

DNDi is currently promoting research in two other conditions: filarial parasitic worm diseases and pediatric HIV. It also has 30 projects at different stages of the development pipeline, 11 of which are totally new drug candidates.

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