Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai entered into a joint research agreement with the Broad Institute (Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA), Mycobacteria Research Laboratories at Colorado State University (Colorado, USA) and the University of Chicago (Chicago, USA) to develop a potential new treatment for tuberculosis (TB).
In this joint research program, compounds identified from Broad’s Diversity-Oriented Synthesis chemical library will be modified to design molecules that demonstrate improved activity as TB treatments. Anti-TB activity will be researched through a new mechanism of action involving the inhibition of tryptophan synthase, an essential enzyme present in Mycobacterium sp.
TB is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, with 10.4 million new cases of TB infections resulting in 1.7 million deaths in 2016 alone. Existing anti-TB medicines were introduced several decades ago, but require long courses of treatments (six to nine months), resulting in poor compliance with treatment. In addition, resistance to existing TB treatments has emerged in various parts of the world. Therefore, there is an urgent need for novel anti-TB agents with shortened treatments period and new mechanisms of action.
The Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT Fund), an international non-profit organization headquartered in Japan, is funding this new joint research program. TB Alliance is serving as an advisor to the program.