AstraZeneca and Cellworks today announced a collaboration supported by the Wellcome Trust to speed the design of novel combination therapies for the treatment of drug-sensitive and resistant tuberculosis. This collaboration will also pave the way for the creation of platforms and approaches to handle Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), a condition that is reaching epidemic proportions in many developing parts of the world.
Current therapies for tuberculosis (TB) are based on creating combinations of three to four drugs and cycling through ad-hoc regimens, which are largely ineffective against MDR-TB. Together, Cellworks and AstraZeneca will pull from a pool of existing anti-infective drugs and attempt to find an effective combination with better efficacy and lower toxicity than the treatment regimens provided today.
The traditional process of designing an ideal drug combination is lengthy and expensive as there are several thousand possible combinations and the search space is too large to be handled by conventional wet-lab techniques. Under this collaboration, Cellworks will use its proprietary predictive platform, which it pioneered in oncology and autoimmune disorders, to model drug MDR-TB and rationally identify 'synergistic combinations' that might have the highest efficacy and lowest possible toxic burden compared to all currently available combinations. AstraZeneca will then validate the top ten most effective combinations identified by Cellworks in-vitro in its laboratories, followed by validation using in-vivo models.
Dr. Anand Anandkumar, Managing Director, Cellworks Group India said: "Cellworks is honoured to take the lead on this unique drug development project which has the potential to save thousands of lives globally. Its results may also have positive implications in other infectious disease areas where drug resistance is prevalent. We are proud to be working with scientists from AstraZeneca on such a socially valuable project, funded by one of the world's leading science foundations."
Dr. Manos Perros, Head of the AstraZeneca Infection Innovative Medicines Unit, said: "AstraZeneca is pleased to join this effort to speed the delivery of improved treatment combinations for TB patients worldwide. Our continued investment in infectious disease research has positioned us to collaborate with organisations like Cellworks who share our passion for medical innovation. AstraZeneca would like to acknowledge and thank the Wellcome Trust for funding this important work. We believe that new medicines and new combination therapies to treat TB will be delivered through a concerted effort from multiple partners rather than one company's lab."
Dr. Richard Seabrook, Head of Business Development at the Wellcome Trust, said: "MDR-TB is both a major global healthcare threat and a scientific challenge. Tackling it requires new approaches to drug discovery and we are delighted to be supporting this collaboration which has a strong mix of both innovation and drug development expertise."
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. TB is spread from person to person through the air. About one-third of the world's population has latent TB, which means people have been infected by TB bacteria but are not (yet) ill with disease and cannot transmit the disease.
TB occurs in every part of the world. Standard anti-TB drugs have been used for decades, and resistance to the medicines is growing. Disease strains that are resistant to a single anti-TB drug have been documented in every country surveyed.
Cellworks Group Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company designing and developing innovative, but derisked, therapeutic programs. The Cellworks therapeutics pipeline is based on an approach using proprietary validated technology platform which allows emulation of disease physiology computationally and prediction of clinical outcomes. The current disease focus area include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Epithelial based cancers and infectious diseases.
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business with a primary focus on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology and infectious disease. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.
About The Wellcome Trust The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.