LSTM awarded new GHIT grant to fund next stage in anti-Wolbachia drug discovery

News article 31 Mar 2020

LSTM, together with colleagues at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Liverpool (UoL) and Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai, has been awarded a Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) grant which will fund the development of a new drug to target the neglected tropical diseases lymphatic filariasis (LF) and onchocerciasis, both debilitating infections affecting more than 150 million people globally.

The £3,250,000 funding for this new phase will support a series of Phase I human clinical trials, which will assess the safety of the drug in humans. This is an essential step in the development of a new drug to use as treatment against LF and onchocerciasis.

LSTM’s Deputy Director and project lead, Professor Steve Ward, said: “We are extremely pleased and proud to be able to continue this unique partnership between LSTM, the University of Liverpool and Eisai. Our approach of killing the parasitic worm by targeting the essential bacteria within the worm is totally unique and one that offers many advantages over drugs that target worms directly.”

Proof-of-concept clinical trials have already shown that this alternative approach works and can reduce elimination timeframes significantly from decades to years.

The drug candidate, AWZ1066S, also has the potential to be used in the whole population, including children and pregnant women.

AWZ1066S provides therefore a unique opportunity to make a large contribution to communities affected by these diseases.

The GHIT Fund facilitates and funds global partnerships for the discovery and development of new health technologies, including drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, for infectious and neglected tropical diseases prevalent in developing countries.