LONDON, UK and NEW YORK, January 24, 2008 - GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) have renewed their joint research program with the goal to improve the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), which is caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb). The research collaboration, initiated in 2004, currently includes a portfolio of early projects which may ultimately yield new medicines that attack M.tb, including drug-resistance strains.
Under the agreement which has been extended for a further three years, GSK and the TB Alliance jointly fund 15 to 25 fully dedicated scientists at GSK's Tres Cantos facility in Spain where GSK has a team of scientists committed to TB and malaria research - two of the three major communicable diseases affecting the developing world.
"We are encouraged by the success of our pioneering work with GSK, which has nearly doubled the number of TB drug discovery projects in our pipeline," said Dr. Mel Spigelman, TB Alliance Director of Research and Development. "This collaboration is advancing the TB Alliance's mission to develop revolutionary, faster and better TB treatment regimens by exploring new ways to attack the disease."
"While we still have a considerable amount of work ahead, the progress achieved so far demonstrates how this type of alliance can speed the discovery and development of new therapies," said Dr. Zhi Hong, Senior Vice President of the Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence for Drug Discovery (ID CEDD) at GSK. "The worsening TB epidemic and emerging multi-drug resistant TB demand a new treatment paradigm, one which GSK is committed to find through this collaboration."
The joint research program currently consists of a portfolio of five projects with promise in fighting TB. The two most advanced drug discovery projects, which are still at the discovery stage, explore two classes of novel antibiotics with unprecedented anti-tubercular mechanisms of action. They have been shown in non-clinical studies to have potential benefits in fighting persistent forms of M.tb and thereby might offer better chances of shortening treatment duration, which currently takes about six months to complete.
Additional projects seek to identify and attack novel mycobacterium enzymes/targets. By inhibiting enzymes critical to the functioning of M.tb, these approaches may disable the bacterium without harming the human host and may also significantly shorten the duration of treatment.
New drugs are critical to ending the needless burden of TB. The current TB drug regimen works for active, drug-susceptible TB, as long as patients complete the six- to nine-month treatment. A shorter TB regimen that is effective against all strains of TB is expected to increase the number of patients who complete treatment, increase cure rates, and lower toxic side effects, thereby limiting the rise of new resistant strains. A novel TB regimen that is also compatible with antiretroviral treatments would improve TB control and help in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Completely novel drugs in the TB Alliance portfolio offer potential for treating multi and extensively drug-resistant TB (MDR- and XDR-TB).
Notes for editors:
About the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development
The TB Alliance is a not-for-profit, product development partnership accelerating the discovery and development of new TB drugs that will shorten treatment, be effective against susceptible and resistant strains, be compatible with antiretroviral therapies for those HIV-TB patients currently on such therapies, and improve treatment of latent infection.
Working with public and private partners worldwide, the TB Alliance is leading the development of the most comprehensive portfolio of TB drug candidates in history, and is committed to ensuring that approved new regimens are affordable, adopted and available to those who need them.
The TB Alliance operates with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Irish Aid, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information on TB drug development and the TB Alliance, please visit www.tballiance.org
GlaxoSmithKline - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies - is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For more information and the company's product development pipeline, visit GSK at www.gsk.com.
GlaxoSmithKline has dedicated one of our Centers for Excellence in Drug Discovery to finding therapies for infectious diseases. Research into bacterial infections figures importantly in the scope of this center, as does research on diseases endemic in poor countries. Where market incentives are lacking, we engage with academia, government, and philanthropies to meet our common responsibilities. We have formed alliances with both the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development and the Medicines for Malaria Venture, which help to support 55 scientists working exclusively on tuberculosis and malaria drugs. GSK has devoted a like number of scientists, our laboratories, and our drug discovery and development experience and will make resulting medicines affordable to those most in need.