Scripps Research has announced a five-year, $50 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of efforts to fight malaria and tuberculosis and address emerging global health threats such as the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
The grant will support efforts led by researchers at Calibr (the California Institute for Biomedical Research) — which merged with Scripps in 2016, becoming the latter's drug development division — to deliver new preclinical candidates against tuberculosis and malaria as well as to advance pandemic preparedness, vaccine development, new contraceptives, and gut health programs. Calibr researchers previously have created therapies for malaria and HIV and are working to develop an injectable anti-malarial drug. The funding also will provide continued support for ReFRAME, an initiative launched with an earlier Gates Foundation grant that is focused on discovering ways to repurpose existing drugs to target HIV, tuberculosis, and parasites that cause severe illnesses in children. Malaria kills roughly a million people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, while tuberculosis causes about 1.5 million deaths annually.
The grant boosts to $135 million the foundation's total support for Scripps and Calibr, beginning with a $30 million grant to Calibr in 2014.
"Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has allowed us to discover and advance several promising therapeutic candidates," said Calibr and Scripps Research Peter Schultz. "The foundation's continued generous support will tremendously accelerate our efforts to address unmet medical needs for millions of people around the globe."
"Our basic science and drug development gives us the capabilities of a pharmaceutical company," Arnab Chatterjee, Calibr's vice president for medicinal chemistry, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "We can test drugs in patients. That helps us get a jump on diseases that are happening across the globe, but which can show up on your doorstep in weeks."