IDRI's drug discovery efforts continue to grow with a recently awarded grant extension of $3.4 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The additional funding was awarded to Tanya Parish, Ph.D., IDRI's Vice President of Drug Discovery, and supplements an earlier grant awarded in 2010, for a total of $7.8 million. The grant is focused on identifying new leads and drug targets for tuberculosis with the ultimate goal of producing new drugs to treat TB. Today, March 24, is World TB Day, designated to build public awareness of the disease. IDRI scientists will take part in a World TB Day event at Seattle Town Hall, today from 5:30-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the causative agent of human tuberculosis, a devastating infectious disease that kills about 1.5 million and infects more than eight million people each year. There is an increasing threat from multi-drug resistant and extremely drug resistant strains, demonstrating the need to develop more effective, cheaper and faster-acting drugs - the prime focus of IDRI's Discovery Program, led by Parish.
IDRI is a founding member of the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative and the TB Drug Accelerator (TBDA). The Lilly initiative is a unique public-private partnership with Eli Lilly and Company and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with a focus on the discovery of new anti-tuberculosis drugs. The TBDA is a partnership of eight pharmaceutical companies and four other institutions funded in part by the Gates Foundation that targets the discovery of new TB drugs by collaborating on early-stage drug discovery for tuberculosis. According to Parish, the Lilly initiative and the TBDA are important, productive and complimentary programs that move TB drug discovery forward.
"The additional funding that we've received from the Gates Foundation within the TBDA allows IDRI to expand chemistry and to progress the hit compounds that we have identified through early work within the Lilly initiative," said Parish. "To date, we have screened several hundred thousand compounds with our industrial partners, Lilly and Abbvie, and identified a number of promising compound series. The new funding allows us to expand our efforts in exploring these series and others emanating from the TBDA for their potential, and we'll be able to expand our chemistry effort, through our long-term partnership with Jubilant Chemsys, which will provide synthetic and medicinal chemistry capabilities to the team. This, in turn, takes us another step closer to IDRI's goal - and that of both the Lilly initiative and TBDA - of developing much-needed new drugs to combat tuberculosis."
Philip Hipskind, Ph.D., Distinguished Research Fellow and leader of the Lilly initiative, added, "Tanya and all of the collaborators at IDRI, NIAID, Lilly and the TBDA have been extremely successful at identifying and validating hit structures, including many that resulted from the early screens within the initiative. We are extremely grateful to the Gates Foundation for recognizing this progress and future potential, and Lilly is proud to be part of this large alliance coming together to address TB, a major global health concern."