Partnerships and Innovation to Defeat Malaria: An Interview With Dr. David Reddy

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dr David Reddy is CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), a product development partnership that works with both the public and private sectors to facilitate the discovery, development and delivery of new antimalarial drugs. Before his public lecture held at the Crawford School (presentation available here), Dr Reddy sat down with Camilla Burkot to talk about MMV’s role in tackling malaria. You can listen to the podcast here and read the full transcript here. For a summary of their discussion, read on.

MMV is one of the few recipients of Australian aid that weathered a stormy year for the aid budget. In the interest of aid effectiveness, I began by asking Dr Reddy how MMV ensures that donor funds are invested effectively:

We have a strategy of syndicated investment, so we receive donor funds from governments, including the Australian government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and others. We use that funding to assemble a drug pipeline – a portfolio of compounds – and we work strategically with groups like the WHO to define the key medical gaps and the types of drugs we need. A great example is drugs that are active against drug-resistant forms of malaria.

We also have an independent expert scientific advisory board that looks at drugs at particular milestones in their development, compares them, and determines which is the strongest and should progress. In that way, by managing a large portfolio of drugs, we’re able to weed out those that don’t make the mark, and focus all of the investment on the ones that will really be transformative.

On the topic of antimalarial drug resistance, Dr Reddy noted that while artemisinin drug resistance has been a focus of attention for several years, a more serious, emerging problem is that of multi-drug resistant parasites:

This is a real issue, because both the artemisinin class of drugs and the partner drugs that go with them are now failing – in other words, they are taking longer and longer to cure. The way this is being tackled at the moment is to combine more drugs, and to treat patients for much longer.

But ultimately what we need are drugs that attack the parasite in a totally different way to artemisinin. Those are the drugs that we’re bringing through the MMV pipeline today.

Source: Development Policy Centre (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
infectious diseases