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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Institute for OneWorld Health

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

The Institute for OneWorld Health, the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the U.S., advances global health by developing new, affordable medicines for infectious diseases that disproportionately affect people in the developing world. OneWorld Health offers a pioneering and opportunistic model that eliminates the profitability hurdle that prevents much of the best pharmaceutical research from ever being considered for use in the developing world.

OneWorld Health is leading a global effort to apply the remarkable advances in pharmaceutical science and biotechnology towards the essential health needs of the poor in the developing world. We ask the question: How much of an impact can a medical technology have if only a small fraction of those who would benefit have access to it? OneWorld Health offers a unique business model to capitalize on late-stage biotechnology research that holds promise for curing infectious diseases long neglected in the developing world. Infectious disease remains the leading killer globally, accounting for over half of the 54 million deaths annually in the developing world. Parasitic diseases such as leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, schistosomiasis, malaria, and diarrheal diseases elicit little recognition and awareness in the West, but cause enormous suffering and death in the developing world. All the while, the potential cures for many of these diseases lay idle in industry and academic labs – promising technology shelved for lack of market potential.

As a nonprofit pharmaceutical company, we leverage investments made by industry and other organizations to accelerate new drug development, reduce risks of failure, and drive down the substantial cost of new drug development. We utilize donations of intellectual property, including later-stage compounds and off-patent drugs, and take responsibility for shepherding those leads through the complex development process. To build, fund, and advance our product pipeline we partner strategically with the the biopharmaceutical industry, foundations, academia, government ministries, and local industry.

OneWorld Health is comprised of pharmaceutical scientists with decades of experience in the science and art of new drug product development. Our scientific expertise extends from drug and vaccine lead identification and optimization to conducting clinical trials and securing regulatory approval of new medicines for patients in the developing world. Our scientific efforts are guided by a mission that ensures our products are safe, effective and affordable to the populations we serve.

OneWorld Health is a new model for global health. We are entrepreneurial. We generate unique opportunities and focus on creative solutions. We are ambitious, we are exacting, we are passionate, and we will change the face of the world, one disease at a time.

Examples of ongoing drug development programs:

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL): this deadly disease transmitted by the bite of an infected sand fly is second only to malaria in number of deaths worldwide due to a parasitic disease. If left untreated, it is nearly always fatal. OneWorld Health is developing a safer and more effective cure for visceral leishmaniasis in India. In May 2004, OneWorld Health completed enrollment for a final clinical trial of the off-patent antibiotic, paromomycin, to cure VL. At the conclusion of the trial in October 2004, we will seek regulatory approval in India for paromomycin. Upon approval, we will work to establish local manufacturing and distribution capacity to reach India’s rural poor with this safer and more affordable first-line therapy for VL, with a goal of eliminating VL from the Indian subcontinent.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria remains a leading killer of children and pregnant women worldwide. OneWorld Health is currently evaluating a biotechnology process to make artemisinin, the anti-malarial compound of choice, affordable and widely abundant in parts of the world where current therapies are ineffective. OneWorld Health is also developing a program focused on the assessment of the safety and efficacy of anti-malarial drugs for use by pregnant women in malaria-endemic areas.