News Feature | August 21, 2014

Novartis Licenses Drug Candidates To TB Alliance

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Novartis announced that it has signed into an exclusive global licensing agreement with Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) to provide anti-tuberculosis compounds discovered at the Novartis Institutes for Tropical Diseases (NITD).

As part of the agreement, NITD will transfer its whole TB research and development program to TB Alliance. Once the transfer is accomplished, TB Alliance will be responsible for the program’s funding and operations to continue development, regulatory submission, and distribution of the compounds contained in the portfolio. These include the preclinical compound NITD304, which blocks an essential protein needed for the survival of the TB bacterium.

Tuberculosis affects over 8.6 million people around the world every year, with more than 1.3 million cases ending in TB-related death annually. The disease particularly impacts resource-poor countries as current therapies require 6 to 30 month dosing regimes. The appearance of increasingly drug resistant stains of tuberculosis also poses medical challenges worldwide, as well as double infection with AIDS that weakens patients’ immune systems and increases their risk of death.

Mark C. Fishman, President of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said, “TB is one of the scourges of the developing world and new medicines are desperately needed to combat its continued spread. TB Alliance is well placed to take our discoveries and compounds through development for the benefit of patients with TB.” NITD was launched in 2003 as a new TB research center in Singapore in collaboration with TB Alliance. The next year a not-for-profit public-private collaboration between NITD and TB Alliance was established to expedite the development of a new TB drug family against the disease.

Mel Spigelman, President and CEO of TB Alliance, said, “Our long-standing partnership with Novartis gives us confidence in the scientific underpinnings of the TB portfolio. We look forward to advancing the most promising compounds into the clinic to meet the urgent need for new TB treatments.”