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Pfizer Enters Tropical Disease Drug Partnership

From Associated Press (November 18, 2009)

NEW YORK--Scientists from a not-for-profit foundation will test 150,000 Pfizer Inc. drug candidates as part of a search for treatments for three tropical diseases that are spread by insects.

Pfizer and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative announced the collaboration Wednesday. The DNDi scientists will screen Pfizer drug candidates to see if they are effective against sleeping sickness -- also called human African trypanosomiasis -- visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease.

Pfizer and DNDi said Chagas disease kills more people in developing nations than any other parasitic disease, as 8 million people are infected every year and 14,000 die. They estimated that sleeping sickness and visceral leishmaniasis kill almost 100,000 people per year combined.

Available treatments for the illnesses can be expensive and highly toxic, and some of them do not treat all phases of the respective diseases.

Merck and Co. entered a similar partnership with DNDi in June.

Posted: November 2009