TB Alliance: Putting science to work for a faster TB cure

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A Global Effort to Reduce the Costs of a TB Drug Candidate

Simpler and safer methods for making the Phase II TB drug candidate PA-824 have been proposed to the TB Alliance by two winners of a scientific challenge. These solutions may save the TB Alliance and end-users a substantial amount of money, thus allowing more patients to be treated for less.

Compared to the established PA-824 synthesis, the new methods proposed do away with an explosive starting material, reduce the number of synthesis steps, have the potential of allowing multiple steps to be carried out in a single reaction container, and eliminate a reactant known to be a skin- and eye-irritant. The methods were submitted under a collaboration between the TB Alliance, the Rockefeller Foundation, InnoCentive, Inc., and thousands of researchers connected via InnoCentive's web-based innovation platform.

Once the PA-824 challenge was posted on the InnoCentive website, 344 InnoCentive Solvers signed a user agreement to gain details. Of these, 27 submitted proposals, which were reviewed by the TB Alliance. The two winning proposals were identified as coming from a scientist in China, and a research fellow in Germany.

"These were unique ideas," said Dr. Takushi Kaneko, the TB Alliance chemist who oversaw the Challenge process. "It was certainly worth going through the exercise."

Under the InnoCentive Challenge agreement, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, intellectual property related to the solutions goes to the TB Alliance, and each of the winners receives US$20,000. Following a tender process, the TB Alliance has now selected a contract research organization to see if these ideas can be reduced to a practical synthesis.