Johnson & Johnson, TB Alliance Form Partnership to Push New TB Drug Through Clinic

6/17/09Follow @xconomy

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with other pharmaceutical companies like Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis. The J&J drug is designed to block a protein called ATP synthase, essentially interfering with an enzyme the TB pathogen needs to get its energy supply.

The treatment is one of two TB drug candidates currently in clinical trials, along with thousands more being screened or synthesized at earlier stages of development, according to the TB Alliance. The organization’s goal is to make TB treatment less onerous. Current treatment regimens require patients to take four different medicines for six months to eradicate the bug, making it difficult for sufferers to comply with doctors’ orders, which, in turn, helps the pathogen develop resistance. The TB Alliance hopes to bring down the treatment time to four months, and eventually two months, similar to the treatment course required for many other bacterial infections.

Under the terms of the deal, J&J will continue to develop TMC207 for multidrug resistant TB and development costs will be split between the organizations. Assuming the drug wins regulatory approval, the company will establish an access program to ensure that poor people around the world who need it will be able to get it, the TB Alliance and J&J said in a joint statement. The two organizations will continue to collaborate on earlier-stage R&D to find more drug candidates as well.

The TB Alliance is chaired by Bruce Carter, the chairman of Seattle-based ZymoGenetics (NASDAQ: ZGEN).

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