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Sanofi signs tuberculosis research deal with TB Alliance

Aims to shorten regimens and tackle drug-resistant forms of infection

Sanofi is to team up with not-for-profit organisation the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) to research new treatments for tuberculosis (TB).

The infectious disease is thought to have resulted in almost 1.5 million deaths worldwide during 2010, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and both Sanofi and the TB Alliance have highlighted the importance of finding new treatments that work in a shorter period of time and are effective against drug-resistant forms of the disease.

“Without new regimens, we cannot stop this global pandemic,” said Dr Mel Spigelman, president and CEO of the TB Alliance, which was formed in South Africa in 2000 to encourage TB research at a time when there were no TB drugs in clinical development.

Now, several companies including Sanofi, Otsuka and AstraZeneca are involved in research for new TB medicines, with one of the main goals to reduce the current treatment period from between six to 24 months to two months or less in the hope of improving compliance.

The frontrunner in this area is currently Johnson & Johnson (J&J), which submitted recent filings in both Europe and the US for its TB drug bedaquiline, which could become the first new drug for multidrug resistant forms of the disease in decades.

But Sanofi isn't approaching TB research from a standing start. The French pharma firm signed a research deal with Cornell University in June, 2011 to identify new TB treatments and has been working with several other firms and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of the TB Drug Accelerator project, which aims to develop a regimen that cures patients in only one month.

The latest deal between the TB Alliance and Sanofi will see the two develop several novel compounds in Sanofi's library that have demonstrated activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB.

“By continuing our excellent partnership with the TB Alliance and leveraging our joint resources, we hope to find together new options to fight this dreaded global disease,” said Dr Elias Zerhouni, president of global R&D at Sanfi.

20th September 2012

From: Research

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