£19M awarded for development of new TB drugs


A microscopic image of a tuberculosis infected lung

Researchers at the University of Liverpool are coordinating a £19 million programme with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), to accelerate the development of new combination drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB).

TB is a bacterial infection that affects approximately nine million people worldwide every year, resulting in up to two million deaths.  The last new class of drugs to be developed for the condition was more than thirty years ago, and since then some strains of the bacteria have become resistant to treatment.

New molecular and imaging technologies

Funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the PreDiCT-TB project, in partnership with 15 academic institutions, two SMEs, and pharmaceutical companies, Sanofi and Janssen, aims to improve the way new drugs for TB are progressed through pre and early clinical development.

Methods to identify the best new treatment regimes are currently imprecise and costly, and so scientists at Liverpool are working with partners to overcome these difficulties by using new molecular and imaging technologies to better understand how drugs eradicate TB bacteria.  They will also use statistical models to bring together important data from preclinical and clinical trials, to allow for a comprehensive understanding of the success of current and new drug treatment programmes.

Selecting the best combinations of new drugs

Dr Gerry Davies, from the University’s Institutes of Infection and Global Health and Translational Medicine, said: “Patients must endure at least six months of treatment to be sure of a cure and in some cases the bacterial strain is resistant to multiple drug types.  It is essential that we understand how to select the best combinations of new drugs to improve and shorten treatment times for all varieties of tuberculosis.

“Working with pharmaceutical partners will enable us to look at the full pathway of drug development and investigate how to accelerate the process so that we get effective new drugs to patients as quickly as possible.”

Nick Cammack, Head of the TB Discovery Performance Unit, GSK, said: “The outputs of this project have the potential to dramatically simplify and accelerate the development of new medicines for TB and will be a key set of enabling technologies for industry as we progress early stage assets.”

PreDiCT-TB is also supported by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) pharmaceutical partners, Sanofi and Janssen.

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