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The drug pipeline for tropical diseases is almost dry, warns David O'Connell, introducing a special collection of articles on neglected diseases in Nature.

O'Connell says there is no shortage of high quality research into tropical diseases, which affect more than one billion people worldwide. But low returns on investments have discouraged drug companies from allocating resources to tackle them.

And, he says, the problem is further exacerbated by an academic culture that rewards publications and wealth creation, rather than contributions to practical social good.

O'Connell says that despite recent increases in funding for developing and delivering new drugs, the situation has not noticeably improved for those actively engaged in the fight against neglected diseases, because the problem cannot be solved simply by more money.

Improvements in infrastructure at almost every level are needed, from regulatory authority involvement to government leadership and research capacity.

The collection features a series of opinions about the problems and solutions surrounding this issue.

Link to the full supplement in Nature