"Tuberculosis has replaced HIV as number one infectious disease killer worldwide.
Disease of poverty & no political will."
World Health Organisation, 28 October 2015.
Why do we need new Tuberculosis drugs?
TB vaccines are widely used in Europe and elsewhere and seem to offer some protection from the disease but have proved a dismal failure in developing countries, like India and in Africa, where the disease is endemic. There is extensive work on new vaccine approaches being undertaken; some excellent work is also being supported by the EU. However, it seems likely that it will take two generations to reach widespread success, if indeed this can ever be achieved. Thus, there will be a continuing need for drugs to treat TB and particularly ones that are effective against currently virulent strains and mutations of these, particularly those that are already multi-drug resistant.
More Medicines for Tuberculosis (MM4TB)
According to the WHO, "in 2014, TB killed 1.5 million people (1.1 million HIV-negative and 0.4 million HIV-positive). The toll comprised 890,000 men, 480,000 women and 140,000 children. TB now ranks alongside HIV as a leading cause of death worldwide."
Today's TB drugs are nearly 50 years old and must be taken for six to nine months for drug-sensitive disease and up to 24 months for drug- resistant disease. Long, demanding treatment schedules prove too much for many patients and the resulting erratic or inconsistent treatment can result in drug resistance, treatment failure or death.
The MM4TB research consortium has been assembled to discover anti-infective agents that will combat TB.
Evolved from the FP6 project, New Medicines for TB (NM4TB) - which successfully delivered a candidate drug for clinical development two years ahead of schedule - the MM4TB team will apply an integrated approach that includes tripartite screening strategies and medicinal chemistry, functional genomics and structural biology. This combination of approaches is a broad strategy to discover new compounds, perform pharmacological validation, identify targets, and analyze a variety of mechanisms of action during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) infection.