ORCHID project aims to slash development time of tuberculosis drugs
A collaborative project led by a scientist from UK pharma major GSK (LSE: GSK) has identified new compounds for the fight against TB.
The ORCHID (Open Collaborative Model for Tuberculosis Lead Optimisation), led by David Barros of GSK, has begun a four-year project to develop new drugs to fight drug-resistant TB and bring them to the marketplace in an efficient way. The ORCHID project is co-funded by the European Union.
Dr Barros said: “When ORCHID started, the last anti-tubercular drug (Rifampin) to be approved was back in the sixties. Efforts to discover new drugs for TB have been very fragmented and academic institutions have been conducting independent research with little or no links to the pharmaceutical industry.”
This has not yielded great progress in novel anti-tubercular drugs but ORCHID is looking to streamline the R&D process by developing new tools to cut the pathway to trial stage from 10 years to 48 months.
ORCHID is focusing on new drugs and compounds already in the clinic, and is working on several chemical series of different stages of the drug discovery process. This includes identifying new chemical hits from a screen of the GSK compound collection, optimizing compounds that have the potential to replace Isoniazid as InhA inhibitors, and repurposing antibiotic compounds that were previously thought to be ineffective as treatments for TB.
The team, after two years of research, has identified an orally-administered beta-lactam as a potential candidate to combat TB, which is soon to be the subject of clinical trials.
As part of the project, new tools to aid drug discovery are also under development. The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, has devised a tool that enables single cell time-lapse microscopy. This technique has become a critical resource for understanding how individual bacteria grow, multiply and die when exposed to drugs.
Source: Pharma Letter