LEIDEN, Netherlands, February 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, a new initiative, based in the Netherlands, is being launched in the fight against neglected tropical diseases: The European Solutions Enterprise for Neglected Diseases (euSEND). euSEND is a joint initiative of the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam (AMC), the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD), Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and Top Institute Pharma. In developing countries, at least 1 billion people are the victims of neglected tropical diseases, like leishmaniasis, an infectious disease transmitted by the bite of a sand fly, and trachoma, an eye disease that is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the world. Medicinal products and diagnostic tools for these types of tropical diseases often do not exist, and when they do, can be of poor quality or unaffordable.

As the first showcase of euSEND, three projects are being initiated with FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics), a not-for-profit foundation focusing on improving the diagnosis of diseases in developing countries. The projects will focus on leishmaniasis, trachoma and tuberculosis. Other partners involved are Leiden University Medical Center and the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT).

Jayasree Iyer, program manager of euSEND, is very enthusiastic about the initiative. "euSEND is a new and unique concept in the field of neglected tropical diseases. Currently, there are very few diagnostic tests and medicines suitable for dealing with these tropical diseases, while millions of people in developing countries suffer and die from them."

"We are excited to begin this innovative collaboration," says Giorgio Roscigno, the CEO of FIND, "and hope to build on our experience in developing and implementing new diagnostic tools to accelerate the fight against these neglected diseases."

euSEND brings together universities, pharmaceutical companies, other international research institutions and product development partnerships to stimulate development of solutions for neglected tropical diseases. Iyer: "euSEND takes on the role of matchmaker: euSEND ensures that research expertise and financial means find each other. Also, euSEND arranges for methods and technologies proven successful with other diseases, to be tried in the research into neglected tropical diseases. To produce innovative solutions."

euSEND builds, amongst others, on the public-private partnership nature of Top Institute Pharma, an organization dedicated to providing groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary research within the framework of the WHO Priority Medicines report. Jorg Janssen of TI Pharma: "This new Dutch initiative is a major step on the path to developing medicinal products and diagnostic kits for developing countries. We want to greatly speed up the development of medicinal products and diagnostic kits for tropical diseases while reducing the associated risk for partners and investors. Especially since euSEND wants to bring the right research partners together, the risk for investors is significantly reduced. In this way we hope to stimulate progress and renew interest also in this currently commercially uninteresting field."