From the 1950s through the 1970s, the success of antibiotics and vaccines in controlling or eradicating infectious diseases (ID) worldwide resulted in decreased emphasis on development of ID therapeutics. The emergence in the past three decades of HIV, SARS, West Nile, avian flu, swine flu, Ebola, and the potential for bioterrorist attacks has reversed this trend and renewed interest in treatment and prophylaxis of ID. Unfortunately, because many diseases are prevalent primarily in developing nations (e.g., malaria, TB, Chagas), potential sales of bioterrorist pathogens are limited mainly to orders for government stockpiles (e.g., anthrax, smallpox, botulinum toxin), and the cost of anti-infective clinical trials is high, traditional large pharmaceutical companies have cut back R&D resources in this arena. To combat this investment shortfall, a new paradigm has emerged where public-private partnerships between the NIH, World Health Organization, private foundations, academia, and non-profits, are beginning to function like pharmaceutical companies to advance the development of promising ID drugs, even when there is little opportunity for profit. This talk will discuss the growing need for ID therapeutics, present some new models for discovering and developing them, and provide examples of public-private partnerships that have advanced therapeutics for specific infectious diseases.
About the speaker: Dr. Jon C. Mirsalis is Managing Director of the Biosciences Division and Executive Director of Preclinical Development at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA. Dr. Mirsalis is an internationally recognized expert in the development of drugs for infectious diseases. He manages two large programs for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for the development of promising therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of a broad range of infectious diseases including TB, malaria, influenza, polio, anthrax, plague, and Ebola. He has personally been involved in the development of over 50 therapeutics that have entered clinical trials and several have already reached the market. Before joining SRI in 1981, Dr. Mirsalis was a postdoctoral fellow at the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology, where he developed the in vivo-in vitro hepatocyte DNA repair assay, which is now widely used as a screen for potential carcinogens by government and industry. He is the author of over 140 publications and abstracts. Dr. Mirsalis received his B.S. degree in zoology/molecular biology from Kent State University, his M.S. degree in genetics from North Carolina State University, and holds Ph.D. degrees in toxicology and genetics from North Carolina State University. Dr. Mirsalis has an adjunct faculty appointment with the University of California-Santa Cruz, where he lectures regularly on genetic toxicology and carcinogenesis. He has recently served on the Board of Scientific Councilors for the National Toxicology Program, the Advisory Board for the Critical Path Institute, and is a past member of the FDA’s Over-the-Country Product Review Committee. Dr. Mirsalis has been certified by the American Board of Toxicology since 1983.