Novartis teams up with University of Cape Town to battle TB and malaria

The Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research and the University of Cape Town recently announced a collaboration to advance innovative drugs that treat African diseases like malaria and tuberculosis.

The collaboration between Novartis and the university's Drug Discovery and Development Center, also known as H3-D, was announced on February 28 at the NIBR headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. One goal of the collaboration is the development of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-level clinical study site in Cape Town, South Africa, to conduct proof-of-concept studies for new drugs developed at H3-D.

Novartis will supply H3-D with new chemical starting points for designing drugs against tuberculosis.

"UCT is committed to providing a meeting point for Western and African expertise to collaborate on solving problems such as Africa's substantial burden of disease," Max Price, the vice-chancellor of UCT, said. "This partnership with a pharmaceutical giant of Novartis' calibre has the potential to benefit the entire continent."

Novartis and H3-D scientists will organize scientific exchange programs to address unmet needs in Africa and Novartis will provide financial support to fund fellowship grants, training programs and laboratory upgrades at H3-D.

"This partnership with Novartis will augment support already provided by the South African government's Department of Science & Technology and Technology Innovation Agency to build drug discovery and development capabilities on the African continent," Kelly Chibale, the director of H3-D, said. "It will help us address medical needs in South Africa and the continent and build strong translational research capabilities that will create commercial opportunities for the country. Not only will Novartis help with our efforts to build a translational research infrastructure but it will help train a new generation of drug discovery scientists who are familiar with the continent and can most benefit from this expertise."