Local study looks to improve health in the Third World

Nov 12, 2020

Around the world, perhaps 1 billion people are afflicted with neglected infectious diseases. A team from the University at Buffalo is working with scientists from a series of poor countries and a Spanish pharmaceutical company to change some of that.

At stake are diseases most have never heard of, diseases like dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. In many cases, there are drugs for treatment of these neglected diseases, but they are so expensive poorer countries simply can't afford them.

So UB's Center for Integrated Biomedical Sciences is working with researchers to come up with cheap generic antiviral drugs. That's also where Avida Biotech comes in. The company was set up to develop cheap generics for the Third World.

University at Buffalo Professor Gene Morse is leading the effort.
Credit Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo

UB Distinguished Professor of Pharmacy Gene Morse said there is a big role for other universities.

"I don't have UB graduate students, but I do have graduate students and post-doctoral fellows that are in these universities, for example, the University of the West Indies or the University of Zimbabwe. They are part of our NIH-Fogarty International Center programs and so they get mentoring from us and we work with their faculty," Morse said.

Those are people familiar with the effect of the target diseases and may have seen the effect on a country and its economy of workers who can't produce fully because diseases drain those workers.

Morse said there are also overall public health issues, like dealing with the mosquitoes that transmit many of the most damaging diseases. He said there is lots of research going on to find out what viruses might be living in mosquitoes in order to anticipate new infections.