Neglected diseases targeted by Genzyme and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

4 December 2008

Genzyme Corporation and the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), a not-for-profit research and development (R&D) organization are collaborating to advance treatments for neglected diseases.

This will initially focus on the development of new, improved treatments for malaria, a debilitating infectious disease of developing countries.

ICGEB and Genzyme scientists are currently targeting Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax, increasingly resistant parasites that cause up to 65% of malaria in India. ICGEB has already begun to identify promising targets that, with the drug development expertise of Genzyme, could lead to drug compounds effective against malaria.

The research will take place both in ICGEB’s laboratories in New Dehli, India and in Genzyme’s facilities in Waltham, Mass., USA. Under the agreement, scientists from Genzyme and ICGEB are expected to work in each other’s laboratories from time to time. The collaboration includes an innovative approach to intellectual property rights, providing ICGEB rights to commercial uses within the field of neglected disease on a royalty-free basis.

Both organizations bring strong capabilities in biotechnology research and drug development. The ICGEB is a premier global research organization, with the mandate to use biotechnology to find solutions to problems of the developing world.

Funded in part by the Department of Biotechnology of the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it conducts innovative research in life sciences and strengthens the research capabilities of its 57 member countries through training, funding programs and advisory services.

Genzyme supports efforts to discover and advance novel treatments for neglected diseases such as malaria, Chagas disease and sleeping sickness through its Humanitarian Assistance for Neglected Diseases (HAND) initiative [2].

The HAND initiative complements existing Genzyme programs that provide free medicines and help to build sustainable healthcare systems in developing countries. Genzyme established a formal presence in India last year to actively collaborate with private and public institutions in the country and the region.

“The biotechnology industry is in a remarkable position to address neglected diseases with novel technology, world-renowned scientists and research partners dedicated to a shared commitment to improve human health,” Henri A. Termeer, chairman and chief executive officer of Genzyme Corporation said.

“The ICGEB is unlocking new approaches to preventing malaria, and Genzyme is ready build on their momentum and move these promising targets through the drug discovery process, ultimately bringing critical treatments to people at risk in the developing world. We look forward to building a productive, sustainable partnership with ICGEB.”

Virander Chauhan, director of ICGEB, New Delhi, said, “We are excited about this new collaboration. Combining ICGEB’s domain knowledge in malaria with Genzyme’s expertise in drug development opens up new possibilities for the development of novel strategies to combat malaria.”

Welcoming the new initiative, Maharaj Bhan, secretary of the Department of Biotechnology of the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology, said, “This is an innovative new model for translational research through public-private partnerships. My best wishes to ICGEB and Genzyme for a fruitful and successful collaboration.”


The International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) is an intergovernmental organization that is dedicated to advanced research and training in molecular biology and biotechnology with special regard to problems of developing countries. Established in 1987, ICGEB currently has 57 member countries with laboratories in New Delhi, India, Trieste, Italy and Cape Town, South Africa and a network of affiliated centers in its member states.

ICGEB, New Delhi conducts basic and applied research on problems related to human health and agriculture. In human health, research at ICGEB, New Delhi focuses on infectious diseases including malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, Hepatitis E, Hepatitis B and dengue. Research on malaria focuses on understanding the biology of the malaria parasite and its interaction with the host. This knowledge is used to pursue novel approaches to develop drugs and vaccines to combat malaria.

More information

1. More information on ICGEB and its programs is available at

2. More information on Genzyme's Humanitarian Assistance for Neglected Diseases (HAND):

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