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Novartis in TB research deal

Novartis has entered into a research deal with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) to pursue an R&D programme to discover novel treatments for the disease
Novartis has entered into a research deal with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) to pursue an R&D programme to discover novel treatments for the disease.

The five-year research agreement is aimed at developing new medicines to treat tuberculosis (TB) and multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB), plus faster acting drug regimens that are easier for patients to complete. Under the terms of the new deal, the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) and the TB Alliance will share information and data about TB drug discovery projects.

Dr Jerome Premmereur, president and CEO of the TB Alliance, said that the global TB crisis is showing no signs of abating and that novel treatments to combat the problem are desperately needed.

"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," he said.

According to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 490,000 cases of MDR TB in 2006 and the disease claimed the lives of over 1.5 million people globally during the same year.

Current estimates suggest that one-third of the world's population is infected with mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the bacteria that can lead to TB. It is the prominent cause of death among HIV-infected patients with weak immune systems.

Novartis says that the current TB drug regimen is not compatible in patients with HIV/AIDS and hopes that the joint discovery programme will help produce medicines that can be used on HIV/AIDS patients.

"Our dedicated research team will leverage our expertise gained throughout the past six years of NITD's TB efforts in partnership with the TB Alliance," said Paul Herring, chairman of NITD and head of corporate research at Novartis.

24th June 2008

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