Infectious diseases are the second cause of morbi-mortality in the world and the leading one in developing countries. Furthermore, these diseases, known as tropical diseases and the majority of which are parasitary, are the cause of poverty and underdevelopment in those countries.
World expenditure on health research has increased notably over recent years, up from 30 billion US dollars in 1986 to the current figure of 105.9. The paradox is that 90% of this money is spent on health problems that affect less than 10% of the world’s population (10/90 gap).
The WHO’s Tropical Disease Research Programme (TDR) has catalogued eight priority diseases neglected by the pharmaceutical industry, which therefore does not invest in their research: malaria, trypanosomiasis (African or Sleeping Sickness and American or Chagas Disease), schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, leprosy and – since 2000- tuberculosis and dengue.
The initiative to develop a Tropical Disease Cooperative Research (RICET) emerged in keeping with this line in 2002. It seeks to research these pathologies, traditionally linked to low-income countries and which have also begun to be present in the Spanish National Health System (SNS) as a result of increased international mobility.
RICET has managed to bring together outstanding researchers specialised in Tropical Medicine and Neglected or Forgotten Diseases. RICET’s main objective is to support the SNS in the diagnostics, treatment and control of neglected and tropical diseases, by means of research and training.Synergies are thus fostered between the different research groups, by facilitating the use of shared resources and associated staff, which provides an added value to the research.
The RICEToperates by means of:
The specific objectives of the RICET Research Programme include improving diagnostics, looking for new therapeutic formulae both at a pharmaceutical-chemical level and when developing new vaccines and immunotherapies, studying and recommending control measures, and furthering the study of the relationships between the etiological agent of the disease, host and, where applicable, the vectors that transmit them.
The established basic research lines are: