TB Alliance's ultimate goal is to make available an ultra-short, simple, and affordable TB treatment that could treat the vast majority of TB patients. To develop such a multi-drug regimen requires a steady stream of new, promising TB drug candidates. For this reason, TB Alliance works in a wide variety of partnerships at all stages of the drug discovery and development process. This helps ensure promising new treatments are discovered and then brought through development in the most efficient way possible.
Nader Fotouhi on the strategy and future of drug discovery at TB Alliance
Filling the pipeline is a global imperative to develop tomorrow's treatments. Over the past year, TB Alliance advanced TBA-354, a next-generation nitroimidazole, into Phase 1 testing. Globally, it is the first TB drug candidate to progress into clinical trials in six years. TBA-354 shows favorable properties when compared to pretomanid (formerly PA-824), a drug from the same class.
In 2014, the organization made particular progress advancing its large discovery-stage portfolio, focusing on those programs that are best positioned to soon deliver other drug candidates into the clinic. As a result of this work, we are now poised to advance a number of candidates into clinical development.
Our ability to leverage resources from collaborators allows us to cost-efficiently operate and more effectively advance discovery-stage programs. Many new projects and partners joined the pipeline in 2015, including multiple programs in-licensed from Novartis, a collaboration with OPBIO dedicated to developing TB drugs from natural products, and additional partnerships stemming from the Japanese Global Health Innovation and Technology (GHIT) Fund.
In 2014, TB Alliance became a member of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's TB Drug Accelerator Program. This program brings TB drug developers together to share work and knowledge and accelerate the most worthy discovery programs. TB Alliance's participation in this group will help smooth new drugs' pathway from the lab to the clinic. Additionally, TB Alliance received an Innovation Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will fund the exploration of several promising, but untraditional, drug discovery efforts over the next two years.
We are assembling tomorrow's short, simple, and effective TB regimens. The close relationship between our discovery and development programs allows knowledge gained from trials to feed back into the discovery of new drug candidates. As our efforts evolve, our discovery team is pursuing new strategies to develop even more promising new regimens. Previously, we sought to compose a regimen of a variety of drugs that attack the TB bacteria in different ways. However, one new approach that is being explored is to overwhelm the TB bacteria with multiple drugs that all hit the same target or pathway.
To fully pursue such strategies at the clinical stage will require the development of many new clinical stage drug candidates.