In June 2016, Alliance member Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH) – a Melbourne-based biotechnology company and social enterprise – announced the receipt of AU$3 million to support the clinical development of moxidectin for scabies treatment and elimination. This represents the largest single investment to address the scourge of scabies, a disease that disproportionately affects the most disadvantaged people in the world, including Australian Indigenous communities.
GLHAM enabled a collaboration with the Lowitja Institute – Australia’s national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research – to implement its Moxidectin treatment program to target scabies throughout Indigenous communities in Australia. The Moxidectin program is funded by the Gates Foundation-backed Global Health Investment Fund and Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH) has a license for the human use of moxidectin, second generation macrocyclic lactone, from the WHO.
Scabies is a highly contagious, debilitating mite infestation of the skin affecting between 120-300 million people worldwide and has been recognized as a pandemic neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. With the funding, MDGHwill undertake a Phase II study to establish the optimal dose of moxidectin in scabies infection. Pre-clinical proof of concept has been achieved, and MDGH already has substantial toxicology, manufacturing and clinical safety data for moxidectin.
“This innovative Australian company plans to conduct Australia-centred development of moxidectin for scabies, a pandemic disease but one which is endemic in Australian Indigenous communities and the South Pacific region. The effort has enormous potential global impact and is close to market” said Curt LaBelle of the GHIF.
“This project is an advance of global significance, joining Australian research and translational expertise with government in a unique opportunity to rapidly deliver the first new treatment for scabies in decades. We are very grateful to Austrade and GHIF for helping us to address this important issue” said Mark Sullivan of MDGH.