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AZ signs tuberculosis drug discovery deal

Published on 06/05/10 at 09:30am
Research Bangalore
The project will mainly involve scientists from AstraZeneca's research site in Bangalore, India

AstraZeneca and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development are to collaborate on the discovery and development of drugs to treat tuberculosis.

The two parties will create a joint portfolio of promising projects, sharing R&D resources and focusing on novel compound classes. Scientists working on these will mainly be drawn from AstraZeneca's TB research centre in Bangalore, India. 

"Collaboration is absolutely vital to developing the tools needed to truly revolutionise the way TB is treated and overcome the global TB epidemic," said TB Alliance president Mel Spigelman.

"AstraZeneca has a well-established TB drug discovery programme and is a crucial participant in the Critical Path to New TB Regimens."

The not-for-profit TB Alliance receives funding from groups including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development.

Data from the World Health Organisation suggests that one in five TB patients is currently resistant to at least one standard first-line TB drug, many of which are nearly 50 years old.

Funding for the new agreement will be provided by both organisations, and the first TB Alliance projects to go into the new pot come from its ongoing collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University and New York Medical College.

TB kills 1.8 million people worldwide each year, and treatment must usually be taken for six to nine months - or up to two years for drug-resistant forms of the disease.

"We are excited to be working with the TB Alliance to help move forward the drug discovery programme and quickly speed promising candidates into clinical development," said Les Hughes, AstraZeneca's vice president of infection discovery.

Financial details for the deal were not disclosed.

FDA approves AstraZeneca’s RA drug Vimovo

In other developments, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved AstraZeneca's rheumatoid arthritis drug Vimovo.

Vimovo (naproxen and esomeprazole magnesium), co-marketed with Pozen, is a delayed-release tablet combining a pain-relieving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and proton pump inhibitor (PPI).

It is indicated for the relief of signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis, RA and ankylosing spondylitis, and to treat patients at risk of developing NSAID-associated gastric ulcers.

Data from the PN400-301 and PN400-302 studies showed patients experienced significantly fewer endoscopic gastric ulcers, compared to patients receiving enteric-coated naproxen.

AstraZeneca has already submitted an EU marketing authorisation application for Vimovo.

Meanwhile, the impending loss of exclusivity on drugs such as Seroquel is leading AstraZeneca into increasing numbers of acquisition talks.

Shaun Grady, the manufacturer's head of business development and licensing, told Reuters: "We're looking to doing deals to sustain and accelerate our growth."

Late-stage deals in the past six months include a $1.24 billion deal for an antidepressant from Targacept and the $350 million acquisition of Novexel.

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