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Gates Foundation funds TB drug discovery

Published on 14/01/11 at 10:41am

Research to identify leads and drug targets for new tuberculosis treatments is to be funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) in Seattle has been awarded a multi-million dollar grant from the charitable Foundation to undertake "chemical genomics” research in TB.

The grant is part of the Foundation's TB Drug Accelerator programme, which aims to accelerate efforts against TB, which is one of the world’s biggest killers.

Nearly two million people die of TB each year, but because it is largely a disease of the developing world, there is little commercial incentive for the pharma industry to work on new products.

Approximately nine million people are newly infected with TB every year, and half a million cases are resistant to the multiple drugs that once effectively treated the disease.

IDRI will use medium- and high-throughput screens to identify possible new compounds for development. The Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative, of which IDRI is a member, will play a key role in the work by providing IDRI access to a library of approximately 800,000 compounds belonging to Eli Lilly .

IDRI is a not-for-profit organisation and integrates early stage drug discovery, pre-clinical testing, manufacturing and clinical trials.

Tanya Parish, director of drug discovery at IDRI and principal investigator on the project, said: "We are extremely pleased to be given the opportunity to further our work in TB drug discovery with this grant."

"We are excited about the momentum this award provides to our TB drug discovery programme," added Steve Reed, head of research and development and founder of IDRI.

Andrew McConaghie

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