Be Better Prepared for Pandemics
New concept aims to develop broadly effective therapeutics against viruses
The German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) have developed a concept to form a National Alliance for Pandemic Therapeutics (NA-PATH). They thereby wish to target research and development of widely effective therapeutics in order to be better prepared for future outbreaks due to viral pathogens having pandemic potential. Overcoming the current COVID-19 pandemic will be considerably more difficult due to the deficiency of antiviral active substances.
In the previous 15 years the World Health Organisation alone has had to proclaim six infection-caused global health emergencies. "The occurrence of further severe pandemics is but a matter of time," Prof Hans-Georg Kräusslich, chairman of the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), is therefore also certain. Despite the gratifying development of a vaccine, it is urgently necessary to develop medicines with which virus infections can be treated rapidly and effectively. Because COVID-19 has also shown this: The development of a vaccine to the point of application will always take time and, depending on circumstances, will thereby also cost lives. "Together with the HZI, we therefore wish to bring into being an initiative by which we are steeled against new pandemics: The National Alliance for Pandemic Therapeutics (NA-PATH)."
NA-PATH is planned to be a strategic alliance of science, industry, regulatory authorities and the politics. "This alliance should achieve the necessary research and development of active substances already in pandemic-free times in order to be able to make effective therapies available significantly more quickly in a crisis situation," says Prof Dirk Heinz, the Scientific Director of HZI and the DZIF chairman. The required structures for such an ambitious project are already at hand at the DZIF, which unites 35 member establishments under one roof and which had already developed an emphasis on "Emerging Infections" in 2012, as well as at the HZI.
Prepare for the unknown – the challenges of developing active substances are great in the preliminary stage of a pandemic, the cause and timing of which no one has been able to foresee so far. Especially because the development of antiviral substances has often met with failure. Even so, the initiators of NA-PATH are convinced that there is a way to success.
NA-PATH counts on widely effective, active substances and substance combinations that will be developed and tested with good efficacy against various pathogens. The focus should above all be on RNA viruses from the groups of influenza (viral flue), corona viruses (SARS) and flaviviruses (e.g. Zika or Dengue). There are large and extensively unexplored animal reservoirs for these virus families, which are responsible for the greatest epidemics in modern times. New pandemics could develop from these through yet unknown pathogens.
With this as background, the National Alliance has set the goal of developing a sustainable active substance pipeline that will make therapy options available in future circumstances of outbreak as quickly as possible.
More information on the concept of NA-PATH:
Concept paper of the National Alliance for Pandemic Therapeutics: A joint initiative of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF).
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