Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) have launched the Pandemic Response Box to provide researchers with free access to 400 diverse compounds to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for life-threatening pandemic diseases.


The Pandemic Response Box is a collection of structurally diverse antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal compounds – selected by disease experts – for screening against infectious and neglected diseases. The compounds are in various phases of drug discovery or development. In return for receiving the drug-like molecules free of charge, researchers from around the world agree to make their screening results publicly available and to publish their findings in an open access journal two years following data generation.

Since the beginning of 21st century, the world has battled multiple epidemics, old and new, caused by viruses and bacteria. Some of these epidemics have reached pandemic proportions. For example, the Zika virus outbreak in 2015-2016 in the Americas demonstrated how a relatively obscure mosquito-borne disease can become a global health emergency.

“The Pandemic Response Box came about in response to the need to be prepared for a future global health emergency,” said Dr Timothy Wells, Chief Scientific Officer, MMV. “Open innovation is one of the keys to unlocking new potential for drug discovery and tapping into existing expertise to kickstart new research efforts. The hope is that these efforts will contribute to the discovery and development of next generation therapies to manage a future pandemic as well as existing threats such as the Zika virus and Ebola.”

The emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens has further increased the frequency and gravity of these epidemics, posing a major threat to the world’s population. For instance, experts estimate the number of deaths associated with antimicrobial drug resistance will increase to 10 million a year by 2050.

“A deeper understanding of disease pathogenesis as well as research into new, effective therapies could prevent the scenario of drug-resistant pathogens emerging and spreading,” said Dr Graeme Bilbe, Research & Development Director at DNDi“The goal is to help shorten the time between the emergence of a new pandemic and the availability of new drugs to treat it. History has repeatedly shown that saving time, saves lives.”

The Pandemic Response Box is one of several MMV and DNDi open science projects, which encourage collaboration and transparency in drug development research. MMV and DNDican provide advice, support and additional compound quantities to help researchers follow up on interesting findings.