The Medicines for All Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University will work on 14 new global health projects and expand its capabilities to improve access to medicines worldwide thanks to an $18.7 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will support projects to reduce the costs of medicines for tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and neglected tropical diseases.
Medicines for All greatly improves global access to these medicines by developing more cost-effective ways to produce these substances. Working with the Foundation, Medicines for All provides direct access to these new technologies by sharing the market with drug manufacturers around the world.
With this grant, Medicines for All has received more than $60 million from the Foundation over the past decade -; Including $25 million in 2017 to create the institute that allows VCU to work on multiple projects. The Institute will use this latest grant to strengthen its partnerships with a global network of researchers, manufacturers and distribution partners who work together to maximize the impact of new life-saving drug developments.
Our longstanding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has enabled us to impact the lives of people around the world. This new grant is an acknowledgment of the important work that still lies ahead for all of us to continue providing low-cost medicines to those who need them.”
B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., CEO of Pharmaceuticals for All
Over the past three years, tuberculosis has been the second leading cause of death among infectious diseases, after COVID. More than 10 million people are infected with TB each year, approximately 5% of whom are resistant to standard TB treatment. Unfortunately, the costs of second-line treatment for TB remain high, and only about one in three people with drug-resistant TB have access to treatment. M4ALL has been and will continue to work to make these important treatments more affordable for people with TB around the world.
In addition, increasing resistance to current malaria treatments is putting proven protocols at risk. The pipeline for new therapies is small, with potential candidates still quite expensive – ; The issues that Medicines for All is trying hard to solve.
“VCU Medicines for All is a transformative step in meeting the nation’s need to make life-saving medicines more available and accessible,” said Michael Rao, PhD, president of VCU and VCU Health. “The renewal of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s grant demonstrates the Foundation’s continued confidence in VCU’s work across disciplines to leverage expertise, creativity, and innovation in the pursuit of better health for all people. Patients and our communities first. This also helps VCU continue to serve as a national model for research that matters to the public It enhances student learning.”
Under the leadership of Gupton, an internationally recognized researcher and industry expert, the Medicines for All Institute has:
- He successfully directed resources on short notice to COVID-19 treatments at the height of the pandemic, providing cost savings for antivirals including molnopiravir and nermatilvir (Paxlovid).
- Demonstrate the impact of work on drugs under development, such as those for tuberculosis, ensuring that new targets can be launched at accessible prices.
- It offered significant cost reductions for malaria and antiretroviral treatments for HIV, including those that have been available for as long as generics such as tenofovir, a drug used to prevent and treat HIV.
- Build strong partnerships with researchers, global health partners and manufacturers whose collaboration helps enable the continued impact of M4ALL’s work.
“Watching Medicines for All grow into a high-impact institution is something we’re really proud of,” said Gary Tepper, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. “From its first moments as part of the College of Engineering, Medicines for All has become a model for how Linking research to manufacturing, using public-private partnerships to deliver high-quality, affordable medicines.”
The Medicines for All methodology for developing cost-effective processes is based on its unique use of chemistry. Working closely with Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering – ; Gupton is the Floyd D. Gottwald, Jr. Chair in Pharmaceutical Engineering and Chair and Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Life Sciences -; Medicines for All has reimagined every step of the pharmaceutical manufacturing process, from simplifying raw materials to optimizing development processes.
For example, Medicines for All improved the manufacturing process for bedaquiline-; A crucial drug in the global fight against tuberculosis – ; Which results in twice the yields of current methods and, therefore, more economical.
As a cornerstone of the regional coalition to build better medicine, Medicines for All helps bring essential medicines back to the United States. Last year, the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the public-private alliance $53 million through the Rebuilding Better Regional Challenge. The consortium will use part of the funding to build a first-of-its-kind expansion facility linking research and manufacturing to accelerate the commercialization of lab discoveries. The facility will make Central Virginia a center for advanced medicine.
The success of Medicines for All demonstrates a new set of tools and approaches that can help ensure that medicines reach people around the world. Growing shortages of medicines and ongoing challenges to affordability of essential medicines provide a reminder that the Medicines for All work is just beginning. The next five years will see the institute look to expand its capacity and capabilities, influence access to a variety of vital medicines, and help build capacity around the world for advanced manufacturing, all while demonstrating that this work can be done with less impact on the environment. The new grant will also include a co-financing mechanism, which will leverage matching support from the Gates Foundation to reduce the cost of projects for sponsors interested in working with Medicines for All on new high-priority global health drug targets.
“Medicines for All has been fortunate to have a number of successes during our first eight years of operation with the support of the Gates Foundation,” said Gupton. “However, the problems we hope to solve are enormous, and we are just beginning on this journey. We look forward to continuing this work with our existing partners and working with new partners to help achieve our mission of improving access to medicine around the world.”