Howard University and TNI BioTech, a leading immunotherapy medication maker, are working jointly to develop new drugs in Africa.

Under a multi-year agreement between the HBCU and the Bethesda, Md.-based biotechnology company, the effort is designed to develop immunotherapy medications to treat patients with chronic diseases including HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s Disease as well as provide affordable health care in Africa, the university said in a statement.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to collaborate with TNI BioTech to develop medications that may be effective in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, cancer and other disorders,” College of Pharmacy Dean and Professor Anthony Wutoh said. “We look forward to partnering further to provide our expertise in drug manufacturing, conduct of clinical trials and regulatory training for pharmaceutical development.

“We are especially pleased to provide support to assist nations in Africa and underscore our ongoing commitment to the development of people in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora.”

According to Joseph Fortunak, associate professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences in the Howard University Department of Chemistry and the College of Pharmacy and leader of the project, the chief target of the research is the development of new and commercial delivery forms of low dose Naltrexone in the form of oral capsules and tablets and topical creams, along with developing commercial forms of Met-Enkephalin (MENK).

Naltrexone is a drug used to help people who have stopped drinking alcohol and using opiates like heroin to continue to avoid drinking or using drugs, the university’s May 22 said.

According to TNI BioTech officials, a low-dose version of Naltrexone applied in combination with MENK could help in treating various diseases, while Naltrexone could be effective in treating HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune diseases.

The college will help conduct clinical trials for the drugs in multiple African nations, too. The college is already engaged in pharmaceutical research in Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.

If the trials prove effective, the drugs will be manufactured by the College of Pharmacy’s Center for Drug Research and Development after clearing regulatory hurdles.

TNI BioTech will also help the college find money to upgrade its Center for Drug Research. With a new stream of funding, the College of Pharmacy would be able to expand its operations to students worldwide, the university said.