We collaborate at a global level to increase understanding of fast-emerging and existing health threats in the developing world, and to lend our skills and resources to addressing these.
This includes participating in multi-stakeholder discussions centred on identifying pragmatic, collaborative approaches to overcoming the barriers to healthcare. And, alongside our in-house research, we partner with others in the search for new and effective medicines for developing world disease.
Communicable (infectious) diseases such as TB and malaria have long been among the greatest health threats in the developing world but non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer are now fast overtaking. There are 36 million deaths from NCDs globally every year and, of those, 80% are in lower and middle income countries.
The challenges that NCDs present are not new to us. We have many decades of experience in NCD treatment, with a strong product portfolio and pipeline of new medicines targeting these areas. The majority of our research and development investment continues to centre on NCDs.
But medicines are only part of the solution in some parts of the developing world where healthcare systems have typically not been set up to provide treatment and care for chronic conditions. Other contributing factors include greater life expectancy (partly driven by the decreasing impact of infection), lifestyle choices (for example, smoking and less exercise) and increased pollution. We, alongside our other industry peers, believe that only through a combined global effort can real progress be made in stemming the tide of NCDs in developing countries.
In partnership with the IFPMA, AstraZeneca is playing a leading role in undertaking policy research to understand practical steps to overcome the barriers to treatment and care for non-communicable diseases in underserved regions. Read more
Tuberculosis and malaria
Alongside the rising challenge of NCDs, the battle against tuberculosis (TB) is far from over. TB still claims over 1.4 million lives a year and remains one of the leading causes of death from infectious disease in the developing world.
Scientists at our dedicated TB research centre in Bangalore, India are focused on finding a new therapy that is effective against multi-drug resistant TB, offers a shorter treatment regime and which is compatible with HIV/AIDs therapies (TB and HIV/AIDs form a lethal combination – each speeding the other’s progress). Read more
In this complex area of research, however, no single company or treatment can meet the challenge alone. As well as our in-house efforts, we also work alongside other organisations in multi-stakeholder partnerships, combining research skills and capabilities to help accelerate the development of new TB drugs. These include the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, The Critical Path to TB Drug Regimens and More Medicines for TB. Under grants from the Wellcome Trust, AstraZeneca will collaborate with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development to deliver new pre-clinical candidates and also collaborate with Cellworks to help predict which drug combinations will bring the most value to patients.
Separately, we are partnering with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to identify new treatments for malaria. A large part of our extensive library of compounds has been screened at an MMV testing facility and promising leads from this screen are being pursued at our Bangalore facility to bring new drugs to market.
Neglected tropical diseases
We have also recently been exploring ways in which we can help in the area of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs (so called because of the lack of investment in the past) affect more than 1 billion people, primarily poor populations in tropical and sub-tropical areas. At the beginning of 2012, AstraZeneca, along with other pharmaceutical companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the US and UK governments, the World Bank and officials from endemic countries announced a new, coordinated push to eliminate, or control, 10 NTDs by the end of the decade. This partnership will help provide the necessary drugs to combat NTDs, accelerate new research and development, sharing of intellectual property and manufacturing capabilities, and funding and support treatment implementation programmes.
We are also part of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s WIPO Re:Search initiative. This is an unprecedented collaboration between the private and public sector designed to encourage new research partnerships and accelerate the discovery and development of new NTD treatments. WIPO Re:Search makes public an online searchable catalogue of available IP assets and resources for use in NTD research. As a partner in the initiative, we have made all AstraZeneca’s published patents and patent applications available for licence, including royalty-free licences for NTD R&D in any country (subject only to pre-existing obligations to third parties). In addition, we are offering to support external NTD researchers with access to our high throughput screening technologies, compound collection, and our laboratories around the world.
What's next in this section
Read details of our 2012 performance.Read more