SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE
)--The Institute for OneWorld Health (iOWH), a non-profit drug development organization, announced today that its development of an alternative source of artemisinin using pioneering synthetic biology technology (semisynthetic artemisinin (ART) project) has successfully entered the production and distribution phase.
This marks a major milestone in the global fight against malaria, a disease that infects more than 220 million people each year and kills more than one million, primarily young children and pregnant women in developing countries. The semisynthetic version of artemisinin is targeted to be an affordable, non-seasonal and complementary source of ART and will stabilize price volatility and alleviate shortages - key factors in meeting future demand in developing nations and around the globe.
iOWH, in collaboration with its strategic partners, successfully completed the scientific work necessary to enter the production and distribution phase of the project. Through a unique public-private partnership with sanofi-aventis, a leading global pharmaceutical company, this phase will enable production of semisynthetic ART. Sanofi has made essential contributions during the project's development and industrialization phase, and is going to manufacture and distribute the semi synthetic artemisinin version to any qualified buyer. The substantial investment sanofi-aventis is making in this project will make it possible to facilitate integration of semisynthetic ART into the ACTs and the global supply chain, with an estimated goal to begin distribution towards the middle of 2012.
“When we started work on this project, nearly six years ago, we knew that this would be a major challenge from technical, scientific, and humanitarian standpoints. Here we are today; however, ready to begin the production and distribution phase in collaboration with sanofi, thanks to the hard work of our team, our collaborators, and our subgrantees, as well as generous support from our funders. Our goal is that one day; no child will die from malaria. Providing an alternative source of artemisinin is a breakthrough in the fight against malaria,” said Richard Chin, M.D., CEO of iOWH.
“Realizing this project brings us enormous satisfaction that only our profession, devoted to public health and patient care, can offer. Contributing to a project which saves lives and relieves suffering within the context of a fair trade economic model, combined with technological challenges and partnership, is a source of inspiration for all members of our team,” said Francis Carré, CEO of Sanofi Chimie.
iOWH has led this project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in collaboration with Amyris Inc. and sanofi-aventis. The synthetic biology technology is based on pioneering inventions licensed from the University of California at Berkeley and the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute. Headquartered in South San Francisco, iOWH is a non-profit that discovers, develops and delivers safe, effective and affordable new medicines for vulnerable population with infectious diseases in the developing world, with emphasis on diseases that disproportionately affect children.