- Two new awards announced under Unitaid’s agility mechanism, UnitaidExplore; DelSiTech and FluidPharma will each receive investment for innovations to make medicines easier to give to children
- Latest call comes in context of Unitaid’s ground-breaking work on paediatric formulations to treat HIV, TB and malaria
- Children in low- and middle-income countries have lower treatment coverage and worse health outcomes than adults – a lack of paediatric formulations is a major contributing factor.
Geneva, 4 October 2021 – Two companies developing potentially game-changing medicine delivery mechanisms for children are the latest recipients of UnitaidExplore funding.
Finnish company DelSiTech and British enterprise FluidPharma have each been awarded funding following the latest call for applications under Unitaid’s pioneering agility mechanism.
Children in low- and middle-income countries have lower treatment coverage and worse health outcomes than adults. A major barrier is a lack of medication that is specifically formulated for their needs. Often medicine is too bitter, difficult to swallow or not correctly dosed, making it hard for children to stay on treatment for diseases such as HIV, malaria and TB.
The latest UnitaidExplore call specifically targeted this issue, inviting applicants to apply for funding to push forward innovation in this field. It builds on Unitaid’s significant work in the field of paediatric formulations for HIV, TB and malaria treatments, and its key role in WHO’s GAP-f network.
FluidPharma will use UnitaidExplore funding to take forward development of their MicroCoat™ technology, which utilises tiny cellulose spheres with taste-masking properties to deliver medication in a formulation that is more palatable to children. It is hoped that this technology could be used across a range of disease areas, with initial development of an artesunate/amodiaquine malaria combination therapy.
DelSiTech’s work focuses on the development of long-acting injectables to deliver medicines to children, reducing the burden of tablets and the associated stigma with taking such medication. The technology involves the use of thin, minimally invasive needles to deliver a unique silica-based formulation via sub-cutaneous injection. The technology can be used to administer drugs that treat or prevent a wide range of conditions, while significantly extending the effective duration of the treatment from a single dose.
Unitaid Director of Strategy Janet Ginnard said: “Innovations in medicine delivery that are specifically aimed at children are of utmost importance and we are pleased to announce this funding to DelSiTech and FluidPharma. These investments fit firmly with Unitaid’s track record in facilitating access to the best medicines for the most vulnerable people. These innovations will help ensure that children can benefit from lifesaving treatment and have the best possible health outcomes.”
The investments from Unitaid will accelerate both companies’ paediatric delivery mechanisms, covering pre-clinical work for several different potential applications.
Professor John Reeder from WHO’s GAP-f network said: “Unitaid’s new investments in innovative delivery approaches for children are extremely welcome, as they spark new energy and collaborations to ensure that science and innovation are at the service of those who have been too often left behind, our children.”
Dr. Lasse Leino, Chief Executive Officer from DelSiTech said: “Alliances, such as with Unitaid, are essential to us and to healthcare organisations around the world for the realisation of our common goal, securing real advancements in global health. DelSiTech is committed to pursuing long lasting strategic partnerships, enabling us to play a role in improving treatment outcomes, now for clearly underserved children. We are thrilled to collaborate with Unitaid and are prepared to leverage the full extent of our technologies and expertise for paediatric solutions for patients, wherever they may be”.
Dr Fang Liu from Fluid Pharma said: “We are really excited for this opportunity to join Unitaid’s excellent work in making medicines suitable for children. Applying the MicroCoatTM technology, we will develop paediatric anti-malarial treatments that are palatable, easy to swallow and stable, to improve compliance and treatment outcomes for children.”
Unitaid is a global health agency engaged in finding innovative solutions to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases more quickly, cheaply, and effectively, in low- and middle-income countries. Its work includes funding initiatives to address major diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as HIV co-infections and co-morbidities such as cervical cancer and hepatitis C, and cross-cutting areas, such as fever management. Unitaid is now applying its expertise to address challenges in advancing new therapies and diagnostics for the COVID-19 pandemic, serving as a key member of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Unitaid is hosted by the World Health Organization.
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