In March 2005, GlaxoSmithKline and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) announced a joint discovery partnership to improve the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). The TB Alliance supports 15 full-time scientists working exclusively on the TB drug program at the GSK R&D facility in Tres Cantos, Spain. GSK contributes at least a matching number of staff and all remaining overhead costs.
To achieve global control of this epidemic, there is an urgent need for new TB drugs, which can: (1) shorten treatment duration; (2) target MDR or XDR strains; (3) simplify treatment by reducing the daily pill burden; (4) lower dosing frequency (for example, a once-weekly regimen); and (5) be co-administered with HIV medications.
The joint research program consists of a mini-portfolio projects intended to yield new compounds that attack Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) on multiple levels. The mini-portfolio currently includes 5 novel chemical series initially identified in phenotypic screens (extracellular M.tb or M.tb infecting monocytes). The successful elucidation of its mechanism of action has delivered new enzyme targets which are now being screened against GSK corporate compound collection. Special attention is dedicated to the discovery of compounds active against M.tb which are not effectively cleared by current anti-TB drugs. A shorter TB regimen is expected to improve patient compliance, increase cure rates and lower toxic side effects, thereby limiting the rise of new resistant strains. A novel TB regimen that is compatible with HIV treatments would improve TB control and help in the fight against AIDS.
In 2012, GSK and TB Alliance agreed a 3-year extension of the program.