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Pharma bigwigs and Research Institutes partner to speed the discovery of new TB drugsSeven pharmaceutical companies and four research institutions in association with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have partnered to speed the discovery of new tuberculosis (TB) drugs. This groundbreaking partnership known as the TB Drug Accelerator (TBDA) aims to develop a drug regimen that cures patients in just one month. The current TB drugs, almost 50 years old, take six months to cure the disease and this results in a 20–30% patient drop-out rate. So a short drug regimen would make people continue their treatment.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects lungs and is the second leading infectious cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis kills someone every 20 seconds. In 2010 alone, nearly 1.4 million people have lost their lives to TB.
The participating TBDA partners include Abbott, AstraZeneca, Bayer Healthcare AG, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co, Sanofi, Infectious Disease Research Institute, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Texas A&M University and Weill Cornell Medical College.
Officially launched in April, the TBDA has already initiated the first round of tests for new TB drug candidates, with an aid of nearly $20 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The TBDA’s aim is to develop five new treatment-shortening drugs and create a proof-of-concept one-month three-drug regimen within 5 and 10 years, respectively.
Dr. Carl Nathan, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, at Weill Cornell Medical College said, “TB drug discovery has reached a crossroads. Finding new and faster-acting TB drugs will take a new kind of partnership, connecting not only academia and industry, but drug company with drug company. The TB Drug Accelerator is a historic experiment in innovative collaboration.”