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Bayer to collaborate on new treatments for tuberculosis with Universities of Dundee, Cape Town

Published on 08/03/16 at 04:47pm

The pharmaceuticals division at German-based Bayer will collaborate with the renowned medicinal chemistry and biology departments at the Universities of Dundee and Cape Town in an effort to develop vital new treatments for tuberculosis.

TB is the cause of one death every 23 seconds around the world, with 1.5 million dying each year from the disease with a further 9 million falling ill due to tuberculosis, mainly in developing countries. The three partners plan to improve on current first-line treatments that can take up to 6 months to cure patients.

Already members in the Tuberculosis Drug Accelerator, a programme launched in 2012 and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the trio of collaborators will optimise hits from the Bayer compound library that were identified within that programme, with the goal of developing them into potential preclinical drug candidates.

The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) at Dundee and the Drug Discovery and Development Centre (H3D) in Cape Town are two of the world’s leading academic centres for drug discovery. Scientists at both institutions recently announced the separate discovery of antimalarial compounds. Furthermore, the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine at University of Cape Town has attained a reputation as a global leader in TB and HIV research.

Professor Paul Wyatt, director of the Drug Discovery Unit, comments: “The collaboration with UCT and Bayer will expand our TB effort, taking us from early stage drug discovery to more advanced design, synthesis and testing to identify potential drug candidates.”

Professor Valerie Mizrahi and associate professor Digby Warner, from University of Cape Town, agree: “Our long-term vision has always been for South Africa, a country with a massive burden of TB, to become a significant contributor along the entire drug discovery and development pipeline, ultimately leading to the introduction of more effective anti-TB drugs in the clinic. This collaboration with Bayer and Dundee offers an exciting opportunity for us to contribute, in a meaningful way, towards realising that goal.”

Janssen announced a similar collaboration last December, which sees it partner with non-profit organisation FIND to find new therapeutics for tuberculosis.

Sean Murray

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