The Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle has received a $3.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of its efforts to identify new leads and drug targets for tuberculosis.
Awarded through the TB Drug Accelerator, a partnership of eight pharmaceutical companies and four other institutions funded in part by the Gates Foundation, the grant will support IDRI's efforts to develop more effective, cheaper, and faster-acting drugs to treat TB. Announced on World TB Day (March 24), the grant supplements a 2010 grant to IDRI from the Gates Foundation, boosting the grantmaker's total support for the organization's TB drug discovery program to $7.8 million.
Every year, more than eight million people are infected by tuberculosis and about 1.5 million people die — numbers that could climb if new drugs are not developed to address the growing threat from multi-drug resistant and extremely drug-resistant strains of the disease. In addition to its participation in the TB Drug Accelerator, IDRI is a founding member of the Lilly TB Drug Discovery Initiative, a public-private partnership with Eli Lilly and Company and the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
"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 Tanya Parish, IDRI's vice president of drug discovery and the project leader. "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."