The agreement gives OneWorld Health the exclusive license to develop the azole compounds to treat parasitic diseases in the developing world. OneWorld Health will initially focus on the use of the azoles in Chagas disease, the leading cause of heart failure in Latin America, where 16 to 18 million people are infected and another 100 million are at risk. The disease is most often transmitted by an insect known as the "kissing bug," but may also be transmitted by blood transfusion. At least 50,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. are infected as well.
The licensing agreement also creates a dual market opportunity in which the universities could seek a pharmaceutical partner to develop the same compounds for fungal infections in industrialized countries.
OneWorld Health will conduct appropriate pre-clinical tests after selecting a lead candidate among the compounds, which represent the first new potential drugs to treat Chagas disease in decades. The compounds were developed by teams led by Andrew Hamilton, deputy provost for science and technology at Yale and professor of chemistry, in collaboration with Frederick Buckner, Michael Gelb, Wesley Van Voorhis, and Kohei Yokoyama, all professors at the University of Washington in Seattle.
"We are delighted that these potent anti-Chagas agents have been licensed to an organization that is committed to their development for treatment of this terrible parasitic disease," said Hamilton, of Yale. "We look forward to working with OneWorld Health to produce drug leads that will push these compounds into pre-clinical development and beyond."