TB Alliance and Novartis collaborate to develop new drugs to fight
7 July 2008
The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) and the
Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) have announced a
five-year research collaboration to develop new medicines for TB,
including drug-resistant strains.
The partnership aims to develop faster TB drug regimens that treat
all forms of TB, are easier for patients to complete, and can be used
safely in patients with HIV/AIDS.
“Since the NITD’s establishment in 2002, its core strategy has been
to collaborate with other organizations to develop and deliver
life-saving treatments to those who need them,” said Paul Herrling,
chairman of NITD and head of Corporate Research at Novartis. “Our
dedicated research team will leverage our expertise gained throughout
the past six years of NITD’s TB efforts in partnership with the TB
The TB Alliance is the first not-for-profit organisation to bring a
novel TB drug candidate to Phase II trials.
Under the collaboration, the NITD and the TB Alliance will share
information on new and ongoing TB drug discovery projects. The agreement
clears the pathway for future collaborative development of novel
antibiotic compounds. This partnership offers the opportunity for
significant progress in the TB drug pipeline, which has grown
considerably in the last few years due, in large part, to the resurgent
efforts of the TB Alliance and its public-private partners.
“While the global TB crisis shows no signs of abating, new treatments
that are easier for patients to complete and that attack TB in new,
faster ways are desperately needed,” said Dr Jerome Premmereur,
President and CEO of the TB Alliance. “We are confident our
collaboration with NITD will not only produce promising anti-TB drug
candidates, but will serve as an industry model in combining resources,
expertise and willpower to tackle one of the greatest public health
threats of our time.”
It is estimated that one-third of the world’s population is infected
with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the bacterium that causes
TB. Active TB disease killed over 1.5 million people in 2006, according
to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Drug-susceptible TB can be cured with a four-drug combination, taken
ideally under direct observation, but this takes six to nine months, and
only works if patients complete the long and often burdensome process.
Erratic or inconsistent exposure to drugs breeds drug-resistant
strains that increasingly defy current medicines. According to the WHO,
there were nearly 490,000 cases of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB)
worldwide in 2006. MDR-TB is defined as TB that is resistant to
isoniazid and rifampicin, two of the mainstay drugs in today’s
four-drug, first-line TB treatment regimen.
In HIV-infected patients whose immune systems are weakened, TB is the
leading cause of death. However, the current first-line TB drug regimen
is not compatible with certain common antiretroviral therapies used to
The new collaboration supports the overall mission of both the NITD
and the TB Alliance, as they are committed to improving access to
medicines and helping reduce the overall global TB disease burden.
The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development
(TB Alliance) is a not-for-profit, product development partnership
accelerating the discovery and development of new TB drugs. It works
with public and private partners worldwide 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 Aids, the
Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), the United Kingdom
Department for International Development (DFID), and the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Novartis Institute for Tropical Disease (NITD) is based in
Singapore and aims to discover novel treatments and prevention methods
for major tropical diseases. It was established in 2002 as a
public-private partnership between Novartis and the Singapore Economic
Development Board (EDB).
In those developing countries where these diseases are endemic,
Novartis intends to make treatments readily available without profit to
poor patients. Its activities are focused on dengue fever, tuberculosis
and malaria, contributing to the education of young scientists and being
a role model for public-private partnerships in Southeast Asia.