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Lilly's TB Drug Initiative

Public-private partnership opens labs, begins work on new compounds to treat tuberculosis

by Ann M. Thayer
October 13, 2008 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 86, ISSUE 41

THE LILLY TB DRUG Discovery Initiative has opened its labs and acquired the first compounds it will develop against tuberculosis. Created in mid-2007, the Seattle-based public-private partnership includes Eli Lilly & Co.; the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), a nonprofit organization focused on diseases that inordinately affect the world's poor populations; and NIH's National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases.

The compounds are a new class of antibiotics from the British biotech firm Summit and CPZEN-45 from Tokyo-based Microbial Chemistry Research Foundation. CPZEN-45 may offer a new mechanism of action against TB and is known to be active against drug-resistant forms.

The TB initiative is also beginning its main task of screening compounds against new bacterial targets. Lilly has opened its library of 500,000 compounds, and Merck & Co. is making available to the partnership libraries of antibacterial compounds and natural products.

By helping to fill the early-stage drug development pipeline, the initiative complements ongoing international efforts, says Steven G. Reed, IDRI founder and head of its R&D program. "We also intend to try to move candidates along that pipeline so that they can be of more interest to pharmaceutical partners," he says.

IDRI is supplying microbiology, molecular biology, and chemistry expertise while coordinating the partnership and managing its lab. IDRI gained much of its high-throughput screening capabilities through a donation from Lilly after the company acquired the Bothell, Wash.-based biopharmaceutical firm Icos and closed some of its research operations in 2007.

In a similar move this past June, the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases expanded its collaboration with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, another public-private partnership (C&EN, June 30, page 20).



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