November 23, 2017

Private sector and academic center in Africa join forces in the fight against infectious diseases

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that a research agreement has been signed with the University of Cape Town (UCT) South Africa to co-develop a new R&D platform aimed at identifying new lead programmes for potential treatments against malaria, with the potential to expand it to other tropical diseases.

Combining Merck’s R&D expertise and the drug discovery capabilities of the UCT Drug Discovery and Development Centre, H3D, the collaboration will conduct drug discovery research with the goal of developing anti-malarial drug candidates using Merck’s compound library.

“This strategic collaboration shows the significant commitment of Merck to provide access to medicines for underserved populations, while creating a potential long-term alliance for generating new drugs to treat infectious diseases,” said Beatrice Greco, Head of Malaria and Diagnostics – Global Health R&D, within the biopharmaceutical business of Merck. “UCT’s H3D is a centre of excellence for research and innovation with an already strong track record in malaria drug discovery—we are honoured to be entering into a collaboration with this renowned institution.”

Merck has a dedicated Global Health R&D group working to address key unmet medical needs related to infectious diseases, such as schistosomiasis and malaria, with a focus on pediatric populations in developing countries. Its approach is based on public-private partnerships and collaborations with leading global health institutions and organizations in both developed and developing countries.

“The vision of H3D is to be the leading organisation for integrated drug discovery and development on the African continent. Working with partners like Merck is critical to build up a comprehensive pipeline to tackle malaria and related infectious diseases,” said Professor Kelly Chibale, Director of the H3D centre. “We look forward to working with the Merck team to set up a solid drug discovery platform, with an initial focus on malaria.”

Merck, within the scope of its responsible corporate governance, is committed to improving access to health for underserved populations in low-and middle-income countries. Health, along with environment and culture, represent Merck’s strategic spheres of activities that are part of the company’s Corporate Responsibility Strategy.

Merck has delivered healthcare services in Africa since 1897. With a population rising faster than in any other global market and a growing middle class, the company is increasingly tapping into the continent’s innovative spirit to create health awareness and help respond to unmet medical needs. The Group’s Executive Board is visiting 10 African countries this week to underscore its commitment and the rising importance of the continent. Among other activities, Merck seeks to start local production of the diabetes treatment Glucophage in Algeria, inaugurate an office in Nigeria and start the sale of its Muse cell analyzer to detect HIV.

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