Looking for a TD on TB

CDRI, NITD team up for a tuberculosis cure

Kelsey Kaustinen
MOSCOW—Tuberculosis is coming under fire as the target of anew collaboration. The Chemical Diversity Research Institute (CDRI) at theChemRar Hi-Tech Centre in Moscow and the Singapore-based Novartis Institute forTropical Diseases (NITD) have signed a collaboration and license optionagreement for the discovery and development of patentable chemical compoundsthat could lead to new and faster cures for tuberculosis.
Under the agreement, the CDRI has prepared a libraryconsisting of thousands of compounds, which have been delivered to the NITD andwill be screened in a cell-based assay to identify molecules that are activeagainst the mycobacterium.
 
 
Henrik A. E. Konarkowski, member of the board at ChemRarHi-Tech Centre and ChemDiv Research Institute and CEO of Silvius Pharma (aChemRar company), says the terms of the agreement are equal partnership, andeach party will fund its own part of the research. If a product can besuccessfully developed, Silvius Pharma will have commercialization rights forRussia and the CIS, he adds. Novartis will have commercialization rights forAsia, Sub-Saharan Africa and other countries.
 
"Initially, ChemDiv will be responsible for the design ofthe screening library. Novartis will screen the ChemDiv compounds in itsultra-high-throughput platform in Singapore on Mycobacteria," says Konarkowski."ChemDiv has produced some novel chemotypes, and synthesized particularlibraries around them, it believes has higher chances to work against evenmulti-resistant stems. NITD has great experience in biological in-vitro and in-vivo models for the preclinical development, whereas ChemDiv ResearchInstitute at ChemRar High Tech Centre (the contractual party) will use itsexpertise in medicinal chemistry to move active compounds forward."
 
The collaboration was launched by a memorandum ofunderstanding that was signed in September 2010, when a Russian governmentdelegation visited Singapore. The memorandum was endorsed and supported byNovartis, and it is expected to also receive support in Russia from theMinistry of Industry and Trade as well as the Ministry of Health and Socialdevelopment. According to Konarkowski, "Deputy Minister Denis Manturov of theRussian Ministry for Industry and Trade was present at the signing of the[memorandum of understanding] at NITD between Novartis Head of Research PaulHermann and ChemRar Chairman of the Board Andrey Ivashchenko."
 
 
Jeffrey Lockwood, a spokesman for the Novartis Institutesfor BioMedical Research, says the CDRI appealed to Novartis as a partnerbecause "ChemRar is an established chemical service provider and has a librarycomprised of more than fifty thousand semi-natural compounds ready to bescreened."
 
 
"We are honored to commit our research platforms andsignificant experience in novel anti-infective drug discovery to such a noblecause," Nikolay Savchuk, chairman of the board of CDRI, said in a pressrelease. "We are delighted to participate in an innovative Public PrivatePartnership, endorsed by the governments of Singapore and Russia, to work ontheir national priorities to aid the world in the battle against tuberculosis.Our chemical expertise combined with Novartis' commitment to discovering anddeveloping medicines for diseases of the developing world creates uniquesynergy that will help patients around the globe."
 
"NITD is a world leader in anti-TB research," addsKonarkowski. "In addition, Novartis has great experience in commercializingdrugs in world markets, and also serves the non-for-profit regions ofsub-Saharan Africa and Asia."
 
 
Tuberculosis remains a prominent health problem today,accounting for nearly 2 million deaths per year worldwide. One-third of theworld's population is infected with latent tuberculosis, and approximately 5 to10 percent of those infected may develop active tuberculosis. The current formof tuberculosis treatment takes more than six months, and multi-drug resistanttuberculosis and tuberculosis co-infection with HIV are both increasing theneed for new drugs. On a World Health Organization list of countries with riskof tuberculosis, Russia ranks seventh, Konarkowski notes.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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