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African scientists strive for a piece of global pharmaceutical industry



From his research facility in Cape Town, Dr. Kelly Chibale says he's about to discover miracles – a new drug that can kill the malaria parasite at any stage of his life, meaning that it can be used to treat both and prevent the deadly disease.

"The parasite has never seen anything like it," he says of the drug used to fight one of Africa's biggest killers.

But as remarkable as the scientific claims behind the treatment is that the development of the drug was conducted from South Africa. Although Africa has the world's highest burden of disease among its fast-growing population, there is little drug development and little drug research on the continent.

This imbalance means that diseases that affect Africans disproportionately are often overlooked in global research. When new drugs are discovered, the formulas are usually patented by foreign pharmaceutical companies and their costs are too high for many African patients.

Dr. small group of African scientists working to eradicate this imbalance.

H3D was founded in 201

0 and was the first institution on the continent to become an "African drug" in 2017 – Dr. Ing. That's history, "he says.

Now he encourages other scientific institutions to do the same by implementing a program that grants eight small grants to African scientists for drug discovery. "H3D is creating a R & D industry across the continent," he says.

The development of such drug discovery capabilities is critical if Africa is to contribute to the global fight against disease and reduce the cost of treating these diseases. "Africans are disproportionately affected," says Drs. Jenniffer Mabuka-Maroa of the African Academy of Sciences in Nairobi, it's out there, someone else picks it up, probably in the US or in the UK, and these pharmaceuticals [companies] they go ahead and study the results a bit more, they make a drug, they patent it and then we can do it I can not afford that.

"If we get funding on the African continent to build infrastructure and build the capacity we need, we can do the research and then bring the results into the innovation pipeline. Chibale does.

As part of her work, Dr. This happens on the continent, by taking stock of the institutions that can carry out such studies.

Currently, only 2 percent of global clinical trials take place in Africa. Half of that occurs in either South Africa or Egypt, she says. As a result, almost none of the medicines administered on the continent are optimized for African patients.

Genetic differences and differences in lifestyle and diet between Africans and the patient on whom the drug may have been tested – often a North American or an American European – mean that the drug may be less effective and may even be dangerous, she says ,

"The prevalence of cancer, for example, on the continent is increasing rapidly. Yet we do not have the right information to even dream of having tools that are relevant to us. That's why we use everything that's out there, whether it works or not. "

Dr. Chibale from H3D agrees. "It is very important that we increase the number of clinical trials in Africa so that the African patient population benefits from it in terms of health outcomes," he says.

In Dr. med. Chibale's vision for the future describes a network of African research Institutes will share information, expertise and capacity to develop affordable new medicines and new formulations of existing therapies, each optimized for patients in different parts of the continent.

"We want to focus on discovering new medicines for every disease to make sure that the dose is optimized for the African patient population and that Africans in East Africa are not identical to Africans in West Africa," he says.

With Dr. med. Chibale, a continent with an expected population of 1.2 billion by 2050, also sees an economic opportunity for investors and an economic opportunity for governments.

"After training in the UK and US, I've seen the developed world using science," he says. "It's not just about solving these health challenges, it's also about creating jobs and career opportunities so that we can stop the brain drain and have a critical mass of talent. "

H3D has grown from a team of five employees in 2010 to today A group of more than 60 full-time and part-time postdoctoral researchers.

Dr. "This is a long-term program, but we're laying the groundwork for how to do it."


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