A landmark collaboration could see the development of the first new-action tuberculosis drug in 40 years. Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), a not-for-profit, product development partnership, and Tibotec, a Johnson & Johnson company, have joined forces to focus on the development of the new experimental drug TMC207.
Forbes reports that if the drug is approved, it could be the first of its kind on the market and the first tuberculosis drug in more than four decades to take a new approach to treating the condition. A cocktail of antibiotics is the mainstay of treatment and there has been no major advancements since the antibiotic Rifampicin hit the market in the 1960s.
The drug candidate, now in midstage clinical trials, works by inhibiting an enzyme responsible for fueling tuberculosis cells, thereby cutting off the cell’s energy supply. Midstage study results have so far shown the drug is effective as part of a combination treatment when compared with a placebo. Results from a second stage of the midstage program are expected in 2010.
If it were approved, the parties involved will establish an access program for developing countries. The TB Alliance will have a royalty-free license on the drug for drug-susceptible forms of tuberculosis.
Tuberculosis remains one of the world’s deadliest diseases and has harshly impacted developing countries as the drug-resistant form of the condition gains ground. The World Health Organization estimates approximately one-third of the world’s population is infected with bacillus that causes tuberculosis and the disease is responsible for nearly 5,000 deaths each day worldwide.