Novartis and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are teaming up to advance development of the drug giant’s experimental therapy KDU731 for the treatment of infectious diarrhoea cryptosporidiosis.

Diarrhoeal diseases cause around 525,000 child deaths each year and cryptosporidiosis is the second leading cause of infectious diarrhea in children under two years of age, underscoring the urgent need for new treatment options.

KDU731 is a Cryptosporidium lipid kinase PI(4)K (phosphatidylinositol-4-OH kinase) inhibitor, shown to be effective in treating infection with the parasite in preclinical models.

The drug is currently undergoing safety studies to pave the way for the start of clinical trials.

Under the terms of the deal, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $6.5 million to support its development for the treatment of children by the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD).

"Today’s global health issues cannot be solved by one organisation alone. Private companies, governments, non-governmental organisations, academia, and other stakeholders need to work together to create sustainable solutions,” said Thierry Diagana, Head of NITD, commenting on the partnership.