One year after its launch, WIPO Re:Search has doubled its membership and resulted in ten research collaborations or agreements. WIPO Re:Search is a consortium where public and private sector organizations share valuable intellectual property (IP) and expertise with the global health research community to promote development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to treat neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis It is administered by WIPO, in partnership with BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), a non-governmental organization based in San Francisco, California.
Members of WIPO Re:Search are meeting in Geneva today to take stock of the year’s progress and explore strategies to expand on the initiative’s success. On the evening of October 29. 2012, representatives of WIPO Re:Search member institutions – Dr. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, Scientific Director of the Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University (Ghana) and Dr. Dennis Liotta, Professor of Chemistry at Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia) – spoke about the value of WIPO Re:Search to scientists in developing and developed countries. Dr. Liotta pioneered the invention and development of important anti-retroviral therapies for HIV/AIDS.
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“WIPO Re:Search is a key component of the WIPO’s agenda to demonstrate that the intellectual property system can and does work to benefit countries at all levels of development,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry. “In order to share research, data and developments, enterprises need a secure framework within which that sharing can take place. IP provides that framework and assists in the development of multiple collaborations across industry, universities and research institutes.”
“One year ago, WIPO Re:Search was launched by a global coalition of neglected disease researchers, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, government agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders. WIPO Re:Search now has begun a series of collaborations for NTD products that, if successful, will make a difference in the health of the developing world. We look forward to continued progress in bringing together tools, knowledge and technologies to accelerate research and development for the benefit of those who need it most,” said Don Joseph, Chief Executive Officer of BVGH.
Under the terms of WIPO Re:Search, organizations agree to make IP assets available (such as pharmaceutical compounds, drug discovery technologies, regulatory data, and know-how), to qualified researchers anywhere in the world on a royalty-free basis, provided the research is focused on neglected tropical diseases, malaria, and tuberculosis. Any products resulting from this research will also be royalty-free for sales in least developed countries (LDCs).
Membership in the initiative has grown significantly since its launch in October 2011 – from 31 members to 61 – from all five continents – today. In particular, membership has grown from African-based organizations, where academic and other research institutions have great capacity to undertake both laboratory and clinical research and development for improved treatments for many diseases endemic in Africa.
By October 2012, the initiative had facilitated ten research collaborations or agreements between WIPO Re:Search members. A number of additional agreements are in advanced stages of discussion between members with more collaboration ideas and agreements in early development.