Tuesday, April 14, 2009
AstraZeneca India gears to be ready with TB drug candidate for safety studies by 2010
Bangalore- AstraZeneca India (AZI) is now aggressively working towards a candidate drug for tuberculosis which is expected to be ready for safety studies by 2010. The company which started the TB research efforts in 2006 after its parent AstraZeneca Plc identified India centre at Bangalore as the key site for the drug discovery of the dreaded disease.
The research activities commenced in 2003. "We are hoping to announce a candidate drug which is a compound suitable for safety studies by 2010," Dr Tanjore Balganesh, vice president, Discovery -AstraZeneca told Pharmabiz in an email interaction.
The research arm in Bangalore has projects at various stages of discovery including those in the lead optimization stage. The presence of the Process R and D facility next door to its discovery centre will help in scaling up synthetic processes for compounds entering clinical development, he added.
AZI had been associated with a couple of pharma and biotech which include vesthagen where it association is based on the needs of specific projects. Approximately 100 scientists are involved in the TB efforts at Bangalore. "Our current mandate is TB which is by itself a complex disease requiring a concerted effort to succeed and hence the focus on the same will continue," stated Dr Balganesh.
Meanwhile, the company is also associated with the benzothiazin-4-ones (BTZ), a new class of anti-mycobacterial agents under the New Medicines for Tuberculosis Consortium. The consortium was awarded Euro 11 million, of which part of the investment is on the BTZ.
According to the Science Magazine report, new drugs are required to counter the tuberculosis pandemic. Around 13 countries globally have been involved in the New Medicines for Tuberculosis Consortium which included AstraZeneca India. The most advanced compound, BTZ043 is a candidate for inclusion in combination therapies for both drug-sensitive and extensively drug-resistant TB. The objective of the Consortium was to look at the synthesis and characterization of 1,3-benzothiazin-4-ones that kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis in vitro, ex vivo, and in murine models of TB. Using genetics and biochemistry, the enzyme decaprenylphosphoryl-D-ribose 2-epimerase was identified as a major BTZ target. Inhibition of this enzymatic activity eliminates formation of decaprenylphosphoryl arabinose, a key precursor required for the synthesis of the cell-wall arabinans, thus provoking cell lysis and bacterial death.
World Health Organization reports that TB kills a person every 20 seconds and about 5,000 people a day. South Eat Asia accounts for 25 per cent of the world TB population of which 20 percent is from India. There are 40,000 cases infected every day in India and around 5,000 new cases are diagnosed of the disease. One third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The HIV- Mycobacterium tuberculosis co-infection is compounded by the growing emergence of drug resistant strains. There is also a huge economic impact of the disease which is estimated to absorb US$12 billion from the incomes of the world's poorest population. Loss of productivity attributable to TB is four to seven percent of gross domestic product
Pathway to Patients, a compendium of findings by TB Alliance has studied the TB drug market in 10 countries. Indian TB drug market is around US$94 million which mainly represents first-line drugs valued at US$85.45 million. Further, there is also a Global Plan which calls for expanded, access to quality TB diagnosis and treatment by 2015.