Investment of Approximately USD 8.8 Million for New Drug Development Against Malaria to Partners Including Marubeni and Eisai

14 Dec 2023
Phase 2Phase 3
First investment in a Japanese trading company and a Chinese pharma company.
Accelerating new drug development by investing in late-phase clinical trials.
TOKYO, Dec. 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund announced today an investment of approximately 1.3 billion yen (US$8.8 million1) for the development of new drugs for malaria and Chagas disease.2
Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease transmitted by mosquitos that affects approximately 250 million people annually and was responsible for approximately 620,000 deaths in 2021.3 The African region constitutes a staggering 95% of global malaria cases, and children under the age of 5 account for 80% of all malaria deaths in this region.
The GHIT Fund invests in new product development with the aim of contributing to global health by facilitating collaborations between Japanese technology and innovation and global institutions to address these neglected infectious diseases. This is the first investment by the GHIT Fund in a general trading company, Marubeni Corporation (Marubeni), and a pharmaceutical company in China, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Industrial Development Co., Ltd. (FOSUN PHARMA), with the aim of accelerating the development of new drugs by focusing on investments in late-phase clinical trials.
First investment in a Japanese trading company and a Chinese pharma company — new malaria drug in a phase III trial by Marubeni, Fosun Pharma, MORU, and MMV
The GHIT Fund will invest approximately 500 million yen (US$3.3 million1) in a clinical phase III trial for a triple artemisinin combination drug against malaria, in partnership with a leading Japanese integrated trading and investment business conglomerate, Marubeni, a major Chinese pharmaceutical and health care company, FOSUN PHARMA, a Thailand-based research collaboration of universities, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU), and the product development partnership Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV), which provides technical support and market access expertise.
This drug candidate should have a significant public health benefit as it is expected to play an important role in the fight against artemisinin partial resistance (ART-R), which is now observed widely in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) of Southeast Asia4 and to some extent in several African countries, including Rwanda and Uganda. Importantly, the project includes the development of a co-formulated child-friendly version, given that most malaria cases are in children.3
800-million-yen investment in a phase IIb study of the new anti-malarial drug candidate SJ733 as a radical cure for P. vivax
The GHIT Fund will also invest approximately 800 million yen (US$5.4 million1) in the anti-malarial drug project by Eisai Co., Ltd. and the University of Kentucky to develop a radical cure for P. vivax malaria. SJ733, an antimalarial drug candidate, has completed a Phase IIa trial for single administration and has shown efficacy and tolerability against P. vivax malaria. With this new investment, the project aims to shorten the treatment period by using SJ733 in combination with the existing drug tafenoquine.
Dr. Osamu Kunii, CEO of the GHIT Fund, said "We are very excited to have Marubeni and FOSUN PHARMA as our new product development partners. It is an important step forward to invest in the development of antimalarial drugs in late-phase clinical trials to advance commercialization. The number of malaria cases and deaths in children under 5 years old is an urgent issue. This investment will make a significant contribution to reducing the burden of malaria globally, especially among young children."
In addition, the GHIT Fund will invest approximately 16 million yen (US$0.1 million1) in Nagasaki University and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) for a screening project against Chagas disease, which is one of the neglected tropical diseases.
As of December 14, 2023, there are 50 ongoing projects, including 19 discovery projects, 18 preclinical projects and 13 clinical trials5 in the GHIT Fund's portfolio. The total amount of investments since 2013 is 31.6 billion yen (US$211 million).
The GHIT Fund is a Japan-based international public-private partnership (PPP) fund that was formed between the Government of Japan, multiple pharmaceutical companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The GHIT Fund invests in and manages an R&D portfolio of development partnerships aimed at addressing neglected diseases, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases, which afflict the world's vulnerable and underserved populations. In collaboration with global partners, the GHIT Fund mobilizes Japanese industry, academia, and research institutes to create new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for malaria, tuberculosis, and neglected tropical diseases.
Appendix 1. Project Details
*All amounts are listed at an exchange rate of USD1 = JPY149.52, the approximate exchange rate on October 31, 2023.
Appendix 2. Investment Overview (as of December 14, 2023)
Investments to date
Total investments: 31.6 billion yen (US$211 million1)
Total invested projects: 123 (50 active projects and 73 completed projects)
To learn more about GHIT Fund's investments, please visit
Investment Overview:
Advancing Portfolio:
Clinical Candidates:
For more information, contact:
Katy Lenard at +1-301-280-5719 or [email protected]
Mina Ohata at +81-36441-2032 or [email protected]
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