COMUNICADO: Max Planck Society Awards Exclusive License to Dafra Pharma R&D to Develop a Drug Against Leishmaniasis

Actualizado 16/07/2008 15:29:27 CET

TURNHOUT, Belgium, July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer agency of the Max Planck Society based in Munich, Germany and Dafra Pharma R&D, a Belgian research company belonging to Dafra Pharma International, today signed a license agreement for the development and commercialisation of a new drug against leishmaniasis.


Leishmaniasis is a so-called 'neglected' parasitic disease. It occurs in 88 different countries spread over 4 continents and is most frequent among the most vulnerable, poorer populations. According to WHO figures, some 350 million people are "at danger" and around 12 million people are infected with the disease.

The disease can be divided into 3 main categories: cutaneous, mucocutaneous and visceral. Cutaneous leishmaniasis is the most frequently occurring form. Visceral leishmaniasis is the severest form of the disease, invariably proving fatal if left untreated.

A promising new treatment for leishmaniasis?

Existing therapies for the treatment of leishmaniasis have never been optimal and even have serious drawbacks, such as toxicity and neural effects. Moreover, the parasites have developed resistance to these drugs, and treatment is very expensive mainly due to the required parenteral routes of administration. This is problematic since the disease affects poorer people. On top of this, leishmaniasis has recently turned out to be a highly opportunistic infection, affecting vulnerable AIDS for example.

The active substance oleylphosphocholine, originally discovered by Professor Eibl at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, is particularly active against the parasite that causes leishmaniasis. Administering a pharmaceutical formulation of this compound to affected animals leads to their full recovery. Even better, according to Professor Eibl, the active substance's safety and lack of side-effects have now also been confirmed by further animal studies. It can be expected that the treatment of leishmaniasis with oleylphosphocholine can completely control, even cure this fatal disease in humans.

Cooperation between Dafra Pharma R&D and MPI, Göttingen

The Max Planck Society was founded in 1948 and has produced no fewer than 17 Nobel Prize winners. Its primary goal is to promote research at its own institutes. The Max Planck Society's subsidiary, Max Planck Innovation, markets patents and technologies to industry and coaches founders of new companies based on research results from Max Planck Institutes. It is among the world's most successful technology transfer organizations.

Dafra Pharma R&D was chosen for the continued development and commercialisation of the new product oleylphosphocholine. The goal of the partners' cooperation is to produce a better, cheaper treatment for leishmaniasis, and Dafra Pharma R&D has been issued an exclusive licence to do just that.

Dafra Pharma R&D belongs to the Dafra Pharma International group, which made its reputation by developing and marketing the latest generation of antimalarial drugs (ACTs) at affordable prices. The company has done a tremendous amount of pioneering work in introducing these ACTs to Africa and has now duly become the market leader on the African continent. In addition to its commercial strength in Africa, i.e. a unique distribution and promotional network of approximately 130 medical representatives who are active in over 30 African countries, Dafra Pharma International also has a strong R&D subsidiary. For some years now that company, led by Dr F.H. Jansen, has been focussing on the development of new molecules designed to counter 'neglected diseases', including TB, schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness and toxoplasmosis.

Caroline Jansen
Mobile: +32(0)475-274-098
Prof Dr Eibl
Tel: +49-55-44-9129153
Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
Göttingen, Germany

Contact, Caroline Jansen, Spokesperson, Mobile: +32(0)475-274-098,; or Prof Dr Eibl, Tel: +49-55-44-9129153,

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