Every year, more than ten million people worldwide contract tuberculosis (TB) and in 2017, 1.6 million people died as a result of the disease; making TB the leading infectious cause of death worldwide. This global pandemic could get worse, as drug-resistant tuberculosis infections become more prevalent, which would mean that conventional antibiotics and TB treatments are no longer effective against the bacteria.
There is an urgent need to develop better, faster and more affordable medicines for TB, but there is little incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research and development, as 98 percent of TB infections impact people in low- and middle-income countries. The consequence: for the last half century, almost no new TB drugs were developed globally.
In 2000, TB Alliance was created to meet that need. Since then, TB Alliance has developed the largest TB drug development pipeline ever – with more than 20 drug candidates at various stages of development, including late-stage clinical trials and products that are under regulatory review.
Beginning in 2016, Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has supported TB Alliance’s work and has committed €10 million per year to fund research and development. The new funding is enabled by KfW and aims to accelerate registration for clinical trials evaluating a four-drug combination therapy.
“We are currently testing a promising treatment for extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis pathogens,” said Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of TB Alliance. “We now have the possibility of a single TB therapy in sight that will treat virtually all patients with active TB with relatively simple and inexpensive therapy.”