R&D for rare and neglected diseases
Rare and neglected diseases have traditionally received little attention from researchers. Fortunately, that is changing. Novartis is focused on discovering and developing new medicines to treat disease and improve human health. Our “science without borders” approach to research recognizes and embraces the needs of increasingly global and diverse patient populations, including those with rare or neglected diseases.
Targeting unmet medical needs
Medical need and scientific understanding rather than economic considerations determines our research priorities.
An example is Muckle-Wells syndrome, a rare disease with potentially fatal complications. Muckle-Wells syndrome is part of a group of autoinflammatory diseases called cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS). Novartis developed the first treatment option for the 6 000 patients worldwide affected by CAPS. Recently, the treatment option has been approved in the EU for in patients suffering acute gouty arthritis attacks.
Education and Capability Building
The task of building capabilities and expanding capacity for scientific and clinical research around the world requires a multi-faceted approach. Developing world nations need improved infrastructure to advance research, including essential laboratory spaces and equipment, as well as non-physical infrastructure such as databases.
None of this is possible without a strong program of education to provide physicians and healthcare workers with the knowledge and organization skills needed to conduct clinical studies.
Discovering new medicines for diseases of the developing world
Our developing world disease research is core to our mission and is carried on in centers throughout our global research network including at two dedicated institutes.
Our goal is to positively change the practice of medicine for patients around the world.
Our commitments in action
Collaborating to eliminate rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Zambia, Africa
RHD has been eliminated in most developed nations, but sub-Saharan Africa studies show at least 2-3% of school-age children suffer from this often fatal disease. Novartis physicians, Zambian healthcare providers, cardiologists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Pan-African Cardiology Society are collaborating to promote RHD prevention by treating children with streptococcal infections and silent RHD. The collaboration will screen 3,000 Zambian children by echocardiography and provide monthly penicillin injections to children with silent RHD to prevent recurrent strep throat and associated cardiac damage.
Partnering with the first drug discovery center on the African continent
Supported by The Novartis Research Foundation, Novartis has entered a research partnership with H3-D, the first fully integrated drug discovery and development center on the African continent, affiliated with the University of Cape Town in South Africa. The goal of the center is to educate the next generation of African scientists and to work on diseases that affect people on the African continent. The partnership between Novartis and H3-D involves research collaborations in TB and malaria, support with the set-up of a clinical study site at H3-D, scientific exchange programs and infrastructure support.
Alcon in Africa: improving eye care across the continent
Alcon, the eye care division of Novartis, sponsors a number of NGO programs through its foundation, ranging from caring for glaucoma patients in Ethiopia and supporting nonprofit Mercy Ships that deliver healthcare to remote locations, to training eye care professionals in Sierra Leone and treating an anticipated 100,000 patients through 100 medical mission teams across sub-Saharan Africa.