Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV)

Partnership objective

The mission of Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) is to reduce the burden of malaria in disease-endemic countries by discovering, developing and facilitating delivery of new, effective and affordable antimalarial drugs.

Malaria is preventable and curable. No one should die of malaria today. Malaria is preventable and curable. No one should die of malaria today. Copyright Novartis

What are the health needs and challenges?

Millions of people around the world are afflicted with malaria every year with children and pregnant women particularly hard hit.

Description of partnership activities and how they address needs and challenges

Medicines for Malaria Venture was established as a not-for-profit public-private partnership in Switzerland in 1999, following talks between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA). MMV brings public, private and philanthropic partners together to fund and manage the discovery, development and delivery of new medicines for the treatment and prevention of malaria.

MMV is funded by foundations, governments and corporations. Regarded by WHO and the Roll Back Malaria partnership as an important partner, it now manages the largest portfolio of malaria medicine research in history, with nearly 40 projects underway at the end of 2008. MMV has mini-portfolio agreements with Genzyme, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis and Sanofi. Other partners include Chong Qing Holley, MSD, Shin Poong and Sigma-Tau.

MMV subsidizes 30 scientists at GSK's dedicated DDW research facility in Tres Cantos. As compounds move into clinical development, GSK provides clinical, regulatory and manufacturing expertise and resources via its global R&D and supply network. In 2008, GSK announced a new collaboration with MMV to identify novel drugs for the treatment of malaria. Research will focus on macrolide antibiotics, which may help treat drug-resistant malaria. GSK and MMV are currently developing tafenoquine, a potential new treatment for the radical cure of P vivax malaria).

The Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases is working with MMV to help to prevent, treat and block the spread of malaria by developing new classes of drugs that attack both liver and blood stages. In 2009, Novartis and MMV introduced Coartem® Dispersible, the first artemisinin-based combination (ACT) formulation developed for children with malaria. The medicine contains the same concentration of active ingredients as the regular tablet, but in a dispersible formulation that is easier to give to babies and children, which helps to ensure that this population receives the correct dose. The sweet-tasting formulation dissolves quickly in small amounts of water which enhances its use in young children. In June 2016, Novartis announced the expansion of its partnership with MMV to develop KAF156. Novartis will lead the development of this compound with scientific and financial support from MMV in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. KAF156, currently in Phase IIb clinical development, belongs to a novel class of antimalarial compounds that act against both the blood and liver stages of the parasite's lifecycle. In September 2016, Novartis published proof of concept study results in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that KAF156 demonstrated activity against both vivax and falciparum malaria, including artemisinin-resistant parasites.

In 2008, MMV signed a MoU with Sanofi for discovery work, including early-stage molecule testing, and screening, plus clinical development of ferroquine, SAR97276 and trioxaquine. Starting in 2009, MMV contributed to the DNDi and Sanofi 'ASAQ field monitoring program' in Côte d'Ivoire. With approximately 15,000 patients, this is the largest study ever done on an antimalarial and should help African experts and government bodies to develop innovative pharmacovigilance methods in 'real life' conditions. In 2011 Sanofi and MMV announced a three-year agreement to research malaria treatments titled “Orthology Malaria”.  As part of the agreement, both parties will work together to identify, characterize and optimize new candidate compounds to treat malaria and conduct early development programs to demonstrate proof of concept in men.

In 2009, Pfizer and MMV signed an agreement which allowed Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia to screen approximately 200,000 compounds from the Pfizer compound library against Plasmodium falciparum malaria.  In 2010, Pfizer and MMV signed an agreement for a second stage of collaboration to optimize and develop promising compounds to clinical proof of concept based on target product profiles defined by the joint steering committee.

In March 2009, MSD and MMV announced a licensing agreement for an investigational drug candidate for the treatment of malaria in the developing world. MSD, whose researchers discovered the candidate, granted MMV an exclusive, royalty-free license to pursue the development of this investigational candidate for use in malaria-endemic countries. MSD retains the option to become MMV's development partner upon completion of the first Phase II clinical trial of the candidate. Also within the agreement, MSD has committed not to profit from its sale in malaria-endemic countries.

In April 2013, Merck's biopharmaceutical division, Merck Serono, signed a partnership with MMV. Together, MMV and Merck work to develop new long lasting anti-malarial compounds through current lead optimization programs, contributing to global efforts to find new therapies to fight re-emergence of drug resistance to currently available malarials. A first program has already been evaluated by the External Scientific Advisory Committee (ESAC) of MMV and has obtained full support for further development.

In June 2013, with support from the GHIT Fund, Takeda began to work with MMV, in a program to screen Takeda’s drug compound library for new candidate compounds that might have the potential to be developed into new drugs for the treatment of malaria.

Summary of impact

The collaboration has identified promising leads.

In its search for new molecules against malaria, MMV and partners have so far supported the screening of more than 5 million compounds for their potential activity against the malaria parasite. Three partners of the MMV-supported early discovery projects have gone a step further and released the data pertaining to the active molecules into the public domain. This bold move will enable scientists the world over to access these data ensuring their antimalarial potential be used to the full. 

In 2012, 331 million Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) courses were procured by the public and private sectors in endemic countries – up from 278 million in 2011, and just 11 million in 2005. ACTs are recommended as the first-line treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, the most deadly Plasmodium species that infects humans. 

The Merck and MMV partnership is still in its early phase but has already proven very effective in identifying promising leads, and is the ground of the newly formed Malaria & Diagnostics team within Merck Serono. This team will have the task to create a mini-portfolio with the collaboration of MMV to address unmet needs in the currently developed MMV anti-malarial portfolio. 

In 2009, Novartis and MMV introduced Coartem® Dispersible, the first artemisinin-based combination (ACT) formulation developed for children with malaria. Since its launch, more than 300 million Coartem® Dispersible treatments have been delivered without profit to 40 countries, mainly in Africa. This makes it the first pediatric ACT to have been delivered in such large quantities.


Getting more medicines to more people: MMV in animation

Aiming for eradication of malaria

Partnership information

Company(ies) GlaxoSmithKline , Merck , Novartis , Pfizer , Sanofi , Takeda

Partner(s) Genzyme, Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund, Griffith University Brisbane, Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), Singapore Economic Development Board, Wellcome Trust

Type of Partner(s) Academia / Hospitals, Government, NGOs, Other Business, PDPs

Therapeutic Focus Infectious Diseases

Disease(s) Malaria

Program Type(s) Availability of Treatment - Differential Pricing, Availability of Treatment - Financial Support, Availability of Treatment - Product Donations, Availability of Treatment - Technology Transfer - Scientific Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing, Prevention Programs - Awareness & Outreach, Research & Development - Development of Treatments, Research & Development - Pediatric R&D

Targeted Population(s) Children, Marginalised / Indigenous People, Men, Mothers, Patients in needs of treatment, People with low income, Women

Region(s) East Asia & Pacific, Latin America & Caribbean, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa

Number of Countries 22

Country(ies) Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia

Start Date 1999

More information MMV website

Anticipated completion date Ongoing