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Media Release | May 13, 2008

UBC Global Access Agreement with iCo Therapeutics Offers Oral Drug to Help Millions in Developing World

The University of British Columbia today announced its first technology licensing agreement using new global access principles that encourage delivery of UBC research discoveries to the developing world.

The agreement will allow Vancouver-based iCo Therapeutics to commercialize an oral formulation of the drug Amphotericin B that was developed by Drs. Kishor and Ellen Wasan at UBC’s Wasan Lab. In return for the worldwide right to develop and sell Oral AMP B in the developed world as a treatment for blood-borne fungal infections, iCo Therapeutics will also ensure availability and accessibility of a suitable formulation to countries in the developing world to treat Leishmaniasis through subsidized pricing.

“A fundamental aim of UBC’s global access principles is to identify UBC technologies with an application to the developing world,” says UBC President Stephen Toope. “This agreement with iCo Therapeutics will ensure UBC research is available and accessible in developing nations.”

“One of the benefits of Oral Amp B is that it has demonstrated minimal kidney toxicity,” said Kishor M.Wasan, Distinguished University Scholar Prof. and Chair, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UBC. “The fact that it is taken orally, avoids the need for a series of injections, a particular problem in the developing world.”

Leishmaniasis afflicts 12 million people worldwide, mainly in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sudan and Brazil. Every year, two million new cases occur. The disease is caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of a sandfly and is characterized by fever, anemia and weight loss. If left untreated, the fatality rate in developing countries can be as high as 100 per cent within two years, according to the World Health Organization.

Blood-borne fungal infections can weaken and kill people whose immune systems have been compromised. It is estimated that fungal infections may account for up to 30 per cent of deaths in immunocompromised individuals, particularly organ transplant recipients and patients with cancer, AIDS and diabetes.

In 2007, UBC became the first university in Canada to develop a strategy for enhancing global access to its technologies. UBC’s University-Industry Liaison Office and the UBC Chapter of the student group Universities Allied for Essential Medicines worked to formalize the practice of developing technologies consistent with the needs and interests of the developing world.

More information on UBC’s global access principles: www.uilo.ubc.ca/global.asp.

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Catherine Loiacono
UBC Public Affairs
E-mail: catherine.loiacono@ubc.ca


Last reviewed 13-May-2008

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