University joins new £155m collaborative project to develop Tuberculosis treatment


The University of Liverpool is a member of the newly-announced UNITE4TB partnership to accelerate the development of new Tuberculosis (TB) drug regimens.

Worldwide, TB is one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent (above HIV/AIDS). The growing emergence of multi drug-resistant TB is well-recognised as a public health challenge and has sparked new interest and investment in anti-TB drug development but a more integrated and innovative approach to clinical trials is needed.

UNITE4TB is a consortium of 30 partners from 13 countries. The 7-year, €185 million project aims to accelerate and improve the clinical evaluation of combinations of existing and novel drugs, with the goal of developing new and highly active TB treatment regimens for drug-resistant and -sensitive TB.

UNITE4TB is the newest project of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) AMR Accelerator, a public-private collaboration with the shared goal of progressing the development of new medicines to treat or prevent resistant bacterial infections.

“Tuberculosis is a major threat to public health worldwide. By bringing together leading experts from the public and private sectors in Europe and beyond, UNITE4TB is well placed to deliver results that will accelerate the development of better treatment regimens to tackle this disease,” says Dr Pierre Meulien, Executive Director of IMI.

The University of Liverpool will contribute expertise in clinical trial design, core outcome sets, pharmacometrics and pharmacogenetics to the consortium. Professor Gerry Davies, from the University’s Department of Clinical Infection, Microbiology and Immunology said: “We are proud once again to be playing an important role in one of Europe’s largest public-private partnerships ,in TB and AMR. The bold collaborative approach taken by UNITE4TB is pioneering the fastest possible route to better, safer treatments for people with drug-resistant TB.”

With European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and Associated Partners on board, UNITE4TB has access to the majority of the most innovative TB compounds, currently in late pre-clinical, clinical phase 1, and early phase 2 stage. The consortium will deliver an efficient, global clinical trials network equipped to conduct phase 2 trials.

State-of-the-art adaptive trial designs will be implemented, and advanced modelling, artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques will be employed. All of this will allow for the selection and testing of novel combination regimens with a high probability of success in subsequent phase 3 clinical trials.

UNITE4TB is the largest public-private collaboration on clinical TB drug development in the history of the EU. It will set a new standard for anti-TB regimen development, enhancing the efficiency with which new treatments are delivered to TB patients across the world. This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking.