On 27 Feb 2020, GSK launched its First-of-its-kind global partnership to develop transformative tuberculosis treatment regimens

  • Published | 01 March 2020

A new global collaboration between philanthropic, non-profit and private sector organizations will work together to speed up the development of new treatment regimens for all TB patients.

A group of philanthropic, non-profit and private sector organizations has initiated a partnership aimed at accelerating the development of new "pan-TB" drug schemes for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) ready for implementation in phase 3. The systems will be built to have little to no resistance to drugs and an acceptable safety profile, and will be better accepted, shorter in length and easier to use than existing options. These regimens are intended as a central component of efforts to address emerging TB care issues and challenges.

The leaders of the Project to Accelerate New Treatments for Tuberculosis (PAN-TB collaboration) – Evotec, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., headquartered in Japan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – committed to using their unique assets, resources and scientific expertise to accelerate the development of the new regime.

The PAN-TB partnership plans to work closely and in a transparent manner with the European Tuberculosis Regime Accelerator (ERA4 TB), launched in January 2020. New molecular entities found by ERA4 TB showing promise in initial human studies could later be integrated into the later-stage, clinical research of the PAN-TB collaboration. Several companies are part of both ventures, including Evotec, GSK and Johnson & Johnson, which will help ensure cooperation through partnerships toward the common goal of advancing drug and regimen production.

TB causes more deaths worldwide than any other infectious disease, with 10 million new cases reported in 2018 alone and 1.5 million deaths. Although the number of deaths is dropping, it is not falling fast enough to meet the global targets of eliminating tuberculosis at the WHO. There are also serious concerns regarding the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB. Drug-resistant TB alone caused 230,000 deaths in 2017-one-third of all AMR-related deaths. TB is also the leading cause of death for HIV-positive people, responsible for one-third of deaths of people living with HIV. TB is disproportionately affecting the world's most vulnerable, with many cases of TB occurring in resource-limited areas.

Current tools are not adequate to promote and sustain global progress against TB, "said Trevor Mundel, Global Health President at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Innovative collaborations are urgently needed, such as PAN-TB collaboration, to develop new medicines and treatment schemes that can tackle TB and advance progress towards achieving global TB elimination goals.”

TB causes more deaths worldwide than any other infectious disease, with 10 million new cases reported in 2018 alone and 1.5 million deaths. TB is responsible for up to a third of all antimicrobial-resistance (AMR)-related mortality. The current drug-sensitive TB regimen, the most common and easiest type of TB to treat, allows patients to take multiple drugs under clinical follow-up for six months or more. Patients with drug-resistant TB can not use this regimen and face treatment regimens that are longer and more complex, often with significant side effects. Patients currently have to go through additional tests to treat drug-resistant TB.

The regimens that are being built by the PAN-TB partnership may help transform TB treatment. A faster and simpler novel regimen that can treat TB regardless of pre-existing drug resistance and with a decreased need for drug resistance testing could be of significant benefit to both patients and health care systems. Via phase 2 clinical efficacy trials, the PAN-TB partnership will identify and evaluate the potential of pan-TB investigational regimens. Collaborative pre-clinical research has begun.