At Celgene, we believe patients should have the opportunity, regardless of their location or financial resources, to benefit from advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease. Celgene Global Health (CGH), founded in 2009, collaborates with partners around the globe to find innovative solutions for healthcare challenges in the developing world. This work is based on our belief that innovative therapies and healthcare partnerships are essential components to long-term progress and prosperity around the globe.
CGH is screening our diverse chemical library against the pathogens for neglected diseases of the developing world, including:
- Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers are caused by multiple families of viruses, many of which cause severe, life-threatening disease. The majority of these viruses pose a serious risk as biological weapons and have been classified as Category A agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Leishmaniasis occurs in 98 countries with 350 million people living at risk of infection worldwide. This complex and diverse disease causes severe disfigurement, disability and death and is usually found in poor populations living in remote areas.
- Chagas disease results in significant disability with great social and economic impact and is endemic in 21 countries across Latin America. This parasitic disease causes chronic pain, organ failure and death, and has been growing in non-endemic, developed countries.
- Malaria, the leading parasitic cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, is present in over 100 countries and threatens half of the world’s population. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is the single largest cause of death for children under the age of 5 and costs an estimated $12 billion every year.
- Lymphatic Filariasis is a parasitic infection that leads to the disease commonly known as elephantiasis that can result in an altered lymphatic system and abnormal enlargement of body parts. Filarial diseases are the most devastating of the NTDs in terms of social and economic impact; the disease causes disability and disfiguring effects for infected individuals and leads to social stigmatization and isolation.
- Tuberculosis (TB) is a pandemic bacterial disease commonly affecting lungs with the vast majority of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries. TB is the leading cause of death of people living with HIV, and multi-drug resistant TB is present in virtually all countries.
- Human and Animal African Trypanosomiasis (HAT and AAT) occurs in humans (sleeping sickness) and feed/work animals in 37 African countries. Approximately 60 million people are at risk of being infected with HAT, which can cause severe neurological conditions and death. The cattle disease manifests as wasting and has a severe economic impact ($1-1.2 billion /year), worsening the social and living standard of the poorest people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Current treatments for both the human and animal disease entail the use of prohibitive delivery methods.
CGH is collaborating with global Product Development Partnerships, academic institutions, non-government organizations, public/private funding organizations, contract research organizations and other pharmaceutical organizations to evaluate our proprietary compounds for activity in neglected diseases. CGH programs are in various stages of development from screening to lead optimization to clinical trials.
Recently, CGH expanded its collaboration with Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) to identify and optimize new therapy candidates for the treatment of NTDs. Since 2011, CGH and DNDi have collaborated on the screening of CGH’s compound library of over 400,000 compounds for activity against NTDs. With this expanded collaboration, CGH and DNDi will work together to identify and optimize potential therapeutic candidates for leishmaniasis, HAT, chagas disease and lymphatic filariasis.
This Research Collaboration Agreement will focus on the lead optimization stage of pre-clinical research. CGH will provide novel compounds of interest for the targeted diseases and use its target-identification and therapy-discovery technology platforms to progress these compounds and to identify clinical candidates. Celgene will partner with DNDi to confirm screening hits and coordinate hit-to-lead compound work and subsequent lead optimization efforts.
CGH is actively applying modern discovery efforts in a collaboration with Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) to identify novel therapies for blood and liver-stage malaria. The worldwide disease burden for malaria is enormous, with more than half the world at risk and with the development of resistance to existing therapies.
In collaboration with MMV, we have discovered several novel classes of anti-malarial compounds from an erythrocyte whole cell phenotypic screen against the major pathogen, Plasmodium falciparum. The direct measure of cell activity from this blood-stage phenotypic screen has allowed us to simultaneously optimize potency and physicochemical properties. Our malaria therapy discovery efforts are currently focused on identifying a proof-of-concept compound from these chemical series and profiling the chemical series against various strains of malaria.
CGH has also teamed with the H3-D Drug Discovery and Development Center at the University of Cape Town in South Africa to identify and develop next generation therapies for patients with TB. This joint therapy discovery program will identify novel therapies for the treatment of TB. Under the collaborative agreement, Celgene will partner with H3-D scientists to optimize active compounds identified from the Celgene chemical library. The joint, global team plans to deliver pre-clinical candidates suitable for testing in humans.
A CGH discovery and development collaboration with Advinus Therapeutics Ltd. and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine focuses on therapies for visceral leishmaniasis, the second-largest parasitic killer in the world, with an estimated 500,000 cases per year. The collaboration was formed to address patient needs that are not met with the current treatments available and highlights the experience and expertise of both organizations including medicinal chemistry, adsorption, distribution metabolism and excretion, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics expertise and design of in vivo proof-of-concept models. The partnership reaffirms the commitment of CGH to develop therapies to treat neglected diseases.
In 2015, CGH and GALVmed, the leading not-for-profit global alliance to protect livestock and improve human lives, initiated a joint drug discovery program after identifying a Celgene compound that exhibited very potent activity against two strains of African Animal Trypanosomiasis (AAT). The team, working on the bovine disease to help ease the economic burden of the sick and unproductive animals, has dual objectives: to test the active compound for in vivo efficacy and to conduct research to identify other active agents that can address complete cure of the disease coupled with ease of administration.
Health System Capacity Building Collaborations
During the past several years, Celgene has been working with the Indiana University School of Medicine and Moi University Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya. Since 1989, Moi University School of Medicine, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and a consortium of North American academic health centers led by Indiana University have worked together to deliver health services, conduct health research and develop leaders in healthcare for both North America and Africa. The institutional partners are collectively named the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH). In 2001, in the face of the deadliest pandemic in human history, the partners joined forces to create one of Africa’s largest, most comprehensive and effective HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) control systems.
Today, in partnership with the Kenyan Ministry of Health and the US Government, AMPATH is expanding from an HIV focus to address critical needs for primary healthcare, chronic disease care and specialty care. In the area of oncology, AMPATH has formed the AMPATH-Oncology Institute (AOI) consisting of hematologists and oncologists. The focus of this effort is to develop a sustainable and comprehensive academic clinical care cancer program serving the 20 million citizens of western Kenya and neighboring areas.
Their mission is to be the premier cancer center in Sub-Saharan Africa with the vision that one day the AOI will become the model for international collaboration in cancer care, education and research in resource constrained settings. To date, the support of Celgene and other key donors has allowed a dramatic expansion of services through the AMPATH-Oncology Program. More specifically, Celgene is providing support to AMPATH through expanded support for their pharmacy infrastructure and novel patient care strategies, which include education for patients with hematologic disorders, expansion into Tanzania, which includes pharmacy supply chain enhancement, and infrastructure support and continued development of the AMPATH-Oncology Program.
World Child Cancer
Under the umbrella of the WeCare program, Celgene has become a corporate sponsor of World Child Cancer, whose mission is to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and care for children across the developing world. This organization treats children with cancer in developing countries through its network of international hospitals and volunteer specialists with teams on the ground. World Child Cancer is one of the few organizations involved in the twinning of international hospitals and volunteer specialists with teams on the ground. Current projects exist is Bangladesh, Malawi, Colombia, Ghana, Philippines and Cameroon.
The partnership that Celgene has built with World Child Cancer since 2011 goes beyond financial donations. For example, Celgene UK/Ireland has been involved in a sponsored walk, donated to raffles and participated in a bike-a-thon. Celgene has been recognized by World Child Cancer as its official corporate sponsor, and was featured in the Financial Times newspaper advertisement as its charity of choice during the Annual Seasonal Appeal in December 2013.
The WeCare program includes a specific initiative for World Child Cancer called Box-a-Bear, where Celgene collects teddy bears/soft toys and sends them to children’s hospitals in developing countries. These countries include:
- El Salvador
- Dominican Republic
- Costa Rica
This initiative and the quantities of donations are continuously advertised to the employees at the UK affiliate, and to date more than 3,200 bears have been donated.
To support World Child Cancer, the Celgene UK/Ireland affiliates convened “Celgene Malawi 7,” an all-female team of seven staff bicyclists plus a support team. The team cycled across Malawi from the capital city, Lilongwe, to the second largest city, Blantyre, covering over 310 miles on dirt roads in just 5 days. The Celgene Malawi 7 members visited two of World Child Cancer hospitals at the beginning and end of their ride. This gave them an opportunity to see firsthand the critical work the team there provides, and allowed them to deliver greatly needed medical provisions and supplies. A total of $88,877 was raised from this cycling event.
In June 2014, the first EMEA Soccer Event was held in Amsterdam to raise funds for World Child Cancer. A total of 16 teams and more than 150 participants from 25 countries enjoyed the sporting challenge as well as the networking and camaraderie between employees across Europe. The donations raised for World Child Cancer from this event exceeded $20,000 and there are plans to continue this event on a biennial basis.