Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. will partner with a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a drug for treating tuberculosis.
The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, also known as the TB Alliance, counts the Gates foundation among its main funders and is designed to facilitate and expedite drug discovery and development.
The LAMP assay allows for a visual readout of results in under 1 hours
By joining the effort, Otsuka Pharmaceutical will gain access to a wealth of data that can aid in formulating new drugs. The partnership is expected to reduce the company's risks associated with development and marketing, and allow it to concentrate on designing a treatment that can be provided as soon as possible and at low cost to the developing world.
Tuberculosis remains a leading cause of death worldwide, killing 1.7 million people annually. An estimated 9 million people are newly infected each year, and variants that are resistant to existing medications are spreading.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical is already conducting clinical trails on a tuberculosis drug in a number of countries, such as Japan, the U.S., China, South Korea, the Philippines and Egypt. By partnering with the TB Alliance, the Otsuka Holdings Co. unit aims to enter the final phase of testing within several years.
In a related move, Eiken Chemical Co, in which Otsuka Pharmaceutical holds a roughly 9% stake, will begin marketing a fast, simple diagnostic test for detecting tuberculosis starting next summer in 22 countries, including India and Uganda.
Eiken has been developing this test in collaboration with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, another entity funded by the Gates foundation.
The test is d on Eiken's proprietary method of DNA amplification, allowing tuberculosis to be identified with high precision under the microscope.