GlaxoSmithKline has created a dedicated R&D group to focus on diseases of the developing world (DDW), specifically malaria and TB, with a DDW drug discovery center at its Tres Cantos R&D site in Spain and clinical development experts in the UK and US. DDW projects are prioritized by their social and public health benefits rather than commercial return.
GSK's malaria lead treatment project is for Tafenoquine, a potential treatment for the radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria, the most frequent and widely distributed cause of relapsing malaria. This affects millions of people each year mainly in South East Asia and Latin America. Tafenoquine, which is being developed in partnership with the Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), is planned to start phase III development in 2014. An initial study to understand tafenoquine and G6PD deficiency (a common gene deficiency in areas where malaria is prevalent and which can affect the choice of malaria treatment) has been completed.
By working with PPPs such as MMV, GSK shares the costs and risks of R&D. GSK works closely with MMV, which subsidizes 25 scientists at Tres Cantos. GSK provides the clinical, regulatory and manufacturing expertise to advance compounds in clinical development.