AstraZeneca joins consortium to stop TB

AstraZeneca has joined a consortium that includes the University of Cambridge and other research organizations to help in the fight against tuberculosis.

The More Medicines for TB consortium intends to develop drugs that promise to be more successful and cut treatment times for TB patients. The consortium will be funded by a £13.5 million European Union grant and led by TB expert Stewart Cole of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, according to the Guardian.

"This is one of the strongest consortiums ever put together. It is led by academia but with the drug discovery knowhow of big pharma and biotechs,” Cole told the Guardian.

Every year, nearly 1.8 million people succumb to TB around the world. Nonetheless, the drugs used to treat it are nearly half a century old and must be taken for six to nine months to two years in the case of resistant forms.

Cole said that new drugs could reduce the treatment time to two months.

AstraZeneca is planning to share its expertise and its compounds. Research will be conducted at a London medical school and at the John Innes Center in Norwich, as well as in Russia, India and South Africa, the Guardian reports.

The goal of the consortium is to have 10 to 20 compounds in the pipeline and to develop two or three successful drugs that can be given simultaneously to a patient.

"We're confident we can replicate that and come up with two candidates [drugs]," Cole said, the Guardian reports.

It can take up to 12 years to develop a new drug and have it approved by regulators.