TB is claiming more lives than ever before. In the fight against this deadly disease, we are applying our own skills in infection research and working with others in the global effort to find urgently needed new treatments.
Existing TB therapies are generally effective, but treatment regimes are long and complicated – which means that patients may give up taking the medicine once the symptoms are no longer apparent but before the infection is fully treated. This can lead to relapse and makes drug resistance more likely. Drug resistance is a significant challenge. In multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, two of the most effective TB drugs are rendered useless. There are even more deadly resistant forms - extremely drug resistant (XDR) TB and more recently totally drug resistant (TDR) TB strains have been reported.
The need for new and improved therapies is urgent– but it is a significant research challenge. To make a real difference in the treatment of TB, a new medicine needs to act on drug-resistant strains, simplify the treatment regime and be compatible with HIV/AIDS therapies (TB and HIV/AIDS form a lethal combination, each speeding the other’s progress).
We joined the global effort to find new TB therapies in 2003, with the opening of our dedicated TB research centre in Bangalore, India. Our scientists there are focused on finding a new therapy that is effective against MDR TB, offers a shorter treatment regime and which is compatible with HIV/AIDs therapies (TB and HIV/AIDs form a lethal combination – each speeding the other’s progress).
The most advanced of our new medicines, AZD5847, entered Phase 2a EBA clinical trials in August 2012 and is backed up with a portfolio of other programmes in earlier stages of R&D.
In this complex area of research, no single company can win the battle alone. We work in partnership with a range of organisations, combining research skills and capabilities to help accelerate the development of new treatments. These include ongoing collaborations The Critical Path to TB Drug Regimens , More Medicines for TB, and Global Alliance for TB Drug Development . In 2012, we added new collaborations with Cellworks and the TB Drug Accelerator.
We will agree the development of current and future TB candidate drugs in consultation with regulatory authorities and external experts. Development research will be done principally in countries with high rates of infection and we will work with external partners with relevant skills and expertise. We will oversee all development activity to ensure that it is conducted in line with our global ethical standards.
We will apply for patent protection in the normal way and we will seek partnership arrangements with the appropriate global and local organisations to make our TB treatment widely available in the developing world through supply strategies that minimise cost of manufacture and delivery.