iBET receives the visit of Merck Global Health Institute for discussion of the collaborative project on Malaria


Recently, iBET was privileged to receive the visit of the Merck Global Health Institute and Merck Portugal, within the scope of the project "Developing a New Malaria Liver Stage Platform". This is a collaborative effort between iBET, Dr. Miguel Prudêncio’s Team (iMM, Lisbon) and the Merck Global Health Institute, which has supported the project with near one million euros along the last three years.

The visit was within the scope of the 3rd annual project meeting and brought together the team members from iBET, iMM and Merck Global Health Institute, including Dr. Beatrice Greco, Head of R&D & Access, Dr. Thomas Spangenberg, Head of Global Health Drug Discovery and Jean-Francois Zawieja, Head of Operation. Professor Paula Alves, CEO of iBET, and Professor Manuel Carrondo, Vice-President of iBET, welcomed Dr. Jutta Reinhard-Rupp, the Director of the Merck Global Health Institute, and Dr. Pedro Moura, the Director of Merck Portugal, 

The main aim of the project is to develop a 3D cellular platform to be used as a model of the hepatic phase of the infection by Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria (i.e., when the parasite is still in the liver and has not yet invaded the bloodstream). The platform can be applied for the testing of new pharmaceuticals but also for a better understanding of the infection by the Plasmodium parasite, as the liver is its entry gate.

This was a particularly important week for the project, as the achievements were communicated to the scientific community for the first time. The presentation was delivered in the Ninth EDCTP Forum: Clinical research and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa: the impact of North-South partnerships”, held at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon. Dr. Catarina Brito, iBET researcher in this project, says: "This was an excellent opportunity to share with the community our first achievements. Tackling such a complex challenge truly requires transdisciplinary collaboration. We are glad the presentation had a good impact, generated discussion and new contacts with potential collaborators”.

The Merck Global Health Institute is a social business unit from Merck KGaA and aims to deliver comprehensive life-changing health solutions to allow a growing child to become a healthy adult in developing countries. Focusing primarily on schistosomiasis, malaria and antimicrobial resistances, the Institute performs R&D, access & local implementation activities by leveraging from Merck businesses.