MIT, South Africa Announce Plans To Join Patent Pool For ‘Neglected Diseases’

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and South Africa’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) will join the Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases, Science|Business reports. According to Science|Business, “MIT is the first university to contribute intellectual property to the pool,” while South Africa’s TIA is the first government agency to join (5/6).

The pool was set up last year by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and “contains more than 2,300 patents that are available for use by industry, non-profit groups and academic researchers to develop new medicines for malaria, cholera and more than a dozen other diseases,” Reuters reports. The pool also includes contributions from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and the Emory Institute for Drug Discovery and is administered by BIO Ventures in Global Health, the news service reports (Steenhuysen, 5/5).

According to a GSK press release, “[i]nitially, TIA will focus on developing new medicines for tuberculosis and malaria” (5/5). TIA Chair Mamphela Ramphele said, “This patent pool is an enormous boost for us to have a significant impact [on TB] in South Africa. … We are extremely anxious to be able to produce new drugs to address this disease,” Ramphele added, Reuters reports.

Melinda Moree, chief executive of BIO Ventures for Global Health, explained that the pool offers “expertise and know-how [which] are often some of the more valuable aspects of drug development, and also things that companies don’t usually share.” Moree, who noted that the pool is “a step on the part of industry to try a new model,” also said that there are other large drug companies interested in contributing to the pool, according to Reuters (5/5).

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