Medical Blogs

March 4, 2007

Institute Of Materia Medica And TB Alliance Announce Partnership To Develop New Tuberculosis Drugs

The Institute of Materia Medica (IMM), a member of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), a not-for-profit, product development partnership accelerating the discovery and development of new TB drugs, today announced plans to pursue a joint research partnership to develop promising, novel anti-tuberculosis agents.

The TB Alliance and IMM will work together on the design, synthesis and evaluation of a class of compounds known as riminophenazines. The class was discovered in the 1950s and developed to work against tuberculosis, but has not been used for TB due to some side effects. Because researchers see potential in the class, the goal of the research partnership is to deliver novel compounds from the riminophenazine class -- without the side effects -- that could improve TB treatment. The collaboration will utilize IMM's expertise and integrated capabilities in chemistry, pharmacology and manufacture along with the TB Alliance's research experience.

"Developing faster and better TB drugs is literally a matter of life and death, and this partnership is an important step forward," said Dr. Maria C. Freire, CEO and President of the TB Alliance. "By bringing together the best science in China with the TB Alliance's expertise and commitment to affordability and access, we are helping to advance and expand the TB drug pipeline."

The TB Alliance is leading the development of the first, most comprehensive portfolio of TB drugs in decades, and is accelerating discovery, preclinical and clinical research of known and novel classes of antibiotics to shorten and simplify the treatment of tuberculosis. The Alliance is committed to making all drugs developed by its research partnerships affordable, accessible to all who need them, and universally adopted.

"This historic agreement between IMM and the TB Alliance offers hope for scientific advances in the development of critically-needed new TB drugs," said Dr. Xiao-Liang Wang, Director of the Institute Materia Medica. "In China we know how important it is to develop and deliver novel TB drugs that work more quickly and can help prevent the problems that today's drugs have with compliance, drug resistance and TB-HIV co-infection."

The last class of TB drugs was developed and approved in the 1960s, and the lengthy treatment (6-9 months) required by the old drugs is hindering the progress of TB control. Public health experts agree that a faster-acting TB cure would improve compliance, lower relapse rates, reduce the growth of drug resistant TB, reduce health care costs and save millions of lives. Novel new TB drugs also are needed to be compatible with antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV for the rising number of those co-infected with TB and HIV, as well as to work against the deadly climb in drug resistant TB. The TB Alliance's ultimate goal is to develop a shorter regimen with novel drugs which could be effective in as few as 10 doses, much like other antibiotics.

About TB Disease

Tuberculosis, although curable, continues to kill someone somewhere in the world about every 15 seconds -- more than 5,000 people every day, or two million this year alone. TB is the leading infectious killer of adults, and the leading infectious cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS. It accounts for more deaths among women than all other causes of maternal mortality combined. The global economic toll of TB is at least $12 billion each year. The bacteria that causes TB can reside latent in the human body for many years, but once active, it attacks the respiratory system, and is easily spread through the air like the common cold -- by coughing and sneezing. The World Health Organization estimates that one third of the world is infected with TB. Two thirds of those who have contracted the disease do not receive full and proper treatment. If current trends continue, one billion people will become newly infected, 200 million will develop TB, and 36 million will die in the next twenty years.

About the Institute of Materia Medica

The Institute of Materia Medica, a member of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, is one of the primary institutions for drug research in China. The mission of IMM is to research and develop innovative drugs with self-owned intellectual property rights. The main task of the institute is searching for new drugs for the treatment of commonly occurring diseases that seriously threaten people's health. At the same time, emphasis is put on the application and development of modern medical theory and high technology. The institute contains seven research departments including Medicinal Chemistry, Chemistry of Natural Products, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Analytical Chemistry, Biosynthesis of Natural Products, Pharmaceutics, and Evaluation of Drug Safety. Furthermore, IMM has several national research centers and a key laboratory, including the National Research Center for Analysis of Drugs and Metabolites, the National Engineering Research Center for the Development of New Drugs, the National Center for Pharmaceutical Screening, and the Laboratory of Biosynthesis of Natural Products. IMM was founded in 1958, and today has three members in the Chinese Academy of Sciences and two members in the Chinese Academy of Engineering. For more information:

About the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development

The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) is a not-for- profit, product development partnership accelerating the discovery and/or development of new TB drugs that will shorten treatment, be effective against susceptible and resistant strains, be compatible with antiretroviral therapies for those HIV-TB patients currently on such therapies, and improve treatment of latent infection. Working with public and private partners worldwide, the TB Alliance is leading the development of the most comprehensive portfolio of TB drug candidates in history, and is committed to ensuring that approved new regimens are affordable, accessible and adopted. The Alliance operates with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), and Irish Aid. For more information on TB drug development and the TB Alliance, please visit

Institute of Materia Medica; Global Alliance for TB Drug Development

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