Monday January 30th, 2023 marks the fourth World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day, supporting a global movement to end NTDs. As partners, the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR) in Dundee is 100% supporting World NTD Day and we are 100% committed to beating NTDs.
Progress in this area has been remarkable in recent years. In 2020, 600 million fewer people required interventions against NTDs than in 2010, and 47 countries have now eliminated an NTD. Yet 1.7 billion, “1,700,000,000”, people worldwide still suffer from an NTD, and lack of resources and limited investment remain barriers to the control, elimination, and eradication of NTDs. The targets outlined in the WHO 2030 NTD road map and SDG3 are ambitious, and include eradicating two diseases, eliminating one disease in 100 countries, and decreasing the number of people requiring interventions for NTDs by 90%.
WCAIR is a world-leading hub for NTD drug discovery, combining Research, Training and Public Engagement, and delivering new technologies, new anti-infective drugs, a trained workforce and a more engaged public. Centre and Dundee Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) researchers initially focussed on three NTDs caused by related parasites; Human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas Disease and Leishmaniasis, in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi).
The Dundee teams have, over recent years, developed new potential treatments and rapid diagnostic tests, and have also improved our understanding of how current drugs work and how drug-resistance arises.
Manu De Rycker, Head of Translational Parasitology in Dundee said “There are now two potential new drugs for leishmaniasis that emerged from the Dundee-GSK collaboration. Both have progressed to phase 1 clinical trials and make key contributions to the world-wide portfolio of new drugs to treat these diseases”.
David Horn, Interim WCAIR Director, said “Recent technological advances have increased the speed and reduced the cost of NTD drug discovery, facilitating the latest wave of breakthroughs. Harnessing the power of these advances means that more life-changing medicines can now be delivered to the right patients at the right time”.
For a more detailed overview, take a look at a review from Dundee WCAIR researchers that also features on the cover of the January 2023 edition of Nature Reviews Microbiology; this review highlights the remarkable progress but also the outstanding challenges we face in this area.