Tag-teaming tuberculosis

Cumbre and TB Alliance announce partnership to develop new TB agents

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DALLAS—Cumbre Pharmaceuticals and the New York-based Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), a public-private partnership developing affordable new tuberculosis drugs, have announced a joint program to develop new anti-tubercu­losis agents.
Under the terms of the agreement, finan­cial details of which were not released, the two organizations will work on the design, synthesis and optimization of two differ­ent classes of multi-functional antibiotics. The TB Alliance will have exclusive rights to these compounds for the treatment of TB and other neglected diseases, while Cumbre will retain the rights to pursue compounds for use in other infectious disease areas.
"This partnership makes a significant contribution to expanding a much-needed, robust TB drug pipeline," says Dr. Melvin Spigelman, director of research and devel­opment for the TB Alliance. "By joining both parties' unique expertise and commit­ting to affordability, we are making a major step forward in developing new treatments to solve an ancient, but still-deadly global health problem."
Spigelman is proud of the partnership because the TB Alliance was able to recog­nize that Cumbre has a core technology that could aid its own mission, while also provid­ing synergy for Cumbre. Mick Bakes, acting president and VP of operations for Cumbre, agrees.
"Cumbre has spent several years now building an approach for mul­tifunctional molecules, and TB is not an area we would have focused on as a company if we hadn't part­nered up with the TB Alliance," Bakes says. "But even though we probably wouldn't have pursued this line of specific research on our own, it is still very much in line with our strategic goal of cre­ating multifunctional molecules. We have a Gram-positive agent in Phase I trials now and we have generated a number of leads for which we hope to have proof of concept in the next few months."
Spigelman calls the deal a "win-win" for both parties, noting that the deal ensures that a TB product will come out of the work that is as affordable as possible for those in need, and open the doors for Cumbre to expand its portfolio.
"This is an excellent model for others to follow, I think," Spigelman says, "looking for ways to align the goals and strategies of organizations like the TB Alliance with companies that have promis­ing core technologies."
"From a business point of view, generally, the current climate doesn't push investors toward putting money into a research program," Bakes observes. "So, the last several years, we've sort of struggled in that we had this great approach as a research platform but couldn't exploit it as much as we would have liked to produce clinical candidates. This work will help us continue to overcome that challenge."
Currently, curing TB requires an average of 130 doses of medi­cation. The long-term goal of the TB Alliance is to develop a shorter regimen with novel drugs which could be effective in as few as 10 doses, to help improve compliance, lower relapse rates and reduce health care costs. Health care costs related to TB reportedly could be reduced by 65 percent in this man­ner, Cumbre and the TB Alliance report.

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