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New Potential TB Drugs to be Investigated Against Multiple Neglected Diseases

A Unique Collaboration: TB Alliance and DNDi Enter Cross-Disease License Agreement to Speed Development of Novel Therapies

July 6, 2010

[New York, United States and Geneva, Switzerland, July 7, 2010] The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) announced today a unique first-ever royalty-free license agreement between two not-for-profit drug developers that speeds progress toward markedly improved therapy of multiple neglected diseases. The TB Alliance has granted rights to DNDi to develop a class of potential anti-TB compounds that also show significant promise for treating other neglected diseases that largely affect the world’s poor. This agreement highlights the efficiency and synergy of product development partnerships (PDPs), and how investment in PDPs is producing a robust and diverse pipeline of tools to treat a wide variety of neglected diseases.

PDPs build partnerships between the public, private, academic, and philanthropic sectors to drive the development of new medical treatments, vaccines and diagnostics for underserved markets. The TB Alliance is a not-for-profit PDP searching for better and faster cures for tuberculosis. DNDi is a not-for-profit PDP working to research and develop new treatments for other neglected diseases, in particular human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), leishmaniasis, and Chagas’ disease.

“Developing drugs to fight neglected diseases, like tuberculosis, is about restoring to the world’s poor one of the most fundamental human rights — their health,” said Mel Spigelman, M.D., President and CEO, TB Alliance. “We are proud to join with DNDi to speed the development of compounds from our pipeline for new cures for multiple diseases, especially those affecting populations living in abject poverty. This agreement enables us to achieve a common goal and is a testament to the strength and efficiency of the product development partnership model.”

Under the agreement, the TB Alliance grants DNDi the rights to develop a series of compounds from the nitroimidazole class for use against many neglected tropical diseases, including visceral leishmaniasis, HAT or sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease. The TB Alliance will also share its scientific expertise and specific knowledge of the drug class, as gained through ongoing work with these compounds. The series of compounds covered by this agreement, designed and synthesized in collaboration with a medicinal chemistry group led by Professor William A. Denny at University of Auckland, is currently under development by the TB Alliance for its potential to yield new TB drug candidates.

“This agreement shows the unparalleled collaborative powers and efficiency of organizations like DNDi and the TB Alliance and the benefits of these approaches within neglected disease research and development,” said Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “The not-for-profit model demonstrates that there are innovative ways to share knowledge, to avoid duplication in research, thereby saving costs and speeding up the R&D process for the benefit of the patients.”

The nitroimidazole drug class is effective in tackling a broad spectrum of bacteria, protozoa, and occasionally helminths, many of the pathogens which cause neglected diseases. The TB Alliance has built a library of nitroimidazoles in pursuit of developing the class for TB. Now, to ensure and promote more rapid, meaningful advances in global health, the groups have established a partnership that allows DNDi to more thoroughly investigate the compounds for their potential utility in treating additional neglected diseases.

This inter-PDP agreement maximizes the benefits from the global health community’s investment in research and development, and may serve as a model for future collaborations. With more than 140 active research programs among the 18 major global health PDPs, there may be opportunities to leverage other innovations across diseases which promises more rapid progress.

Over the next year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has granted DNDi US$1.5 million to conduct the preclinical assessment of this class of nitroimidazole compounds specifically for visceral leishmaniasis.