In advance of World TB Day, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle, Washington, to learn more about our partnership with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), one of our primary partners in the search for new TB medicines.
While it rained – it was Seattle, right? – the day was enlightening in many ways.
In the global fight against TB, one of the areas of greatest need is new medicines. Most current TB medicines are 40-plus years old and have serious side effects. They take too long to work. And the quantity of medicines needed to cure TB is burdensome. All of this and more makes it challenging for people with TB to comply with their full course of treatment, which can lead to multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB).
As part of the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, we collaborate with IDRI on early stage discovery efforts for new TB molecules. The goal is to fill the research pipeline with new possibilities – with hope.
Through the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, we have committed more than $20 million in funding and in-kind contributions to IDRI. We’ve also opened up our corporate compound library that now includes more than a million molecular entities. IDRI uses this library to screen the compounds to see if they might kill TB. They have now completed screening the library and found several interesting leads.
Lilly donated robotics and other equipment to help IDRI build a high-throughput screening laboratory. What’s more, IDRI scientists have remote access to our automated synthesis lab in Indianapolis, which they can operate with their iPhone! And Lilly scientists volunteer side-by-side and virtually with their IDRI counterparts in the hunt for new solutions.
All of this is aimed at speeding up the drug discovery process. And I couldn’t help leaving IDRI’s labs feeling more hopeful than ever that, one day – hopefully sooner rather than later – we will relegate TB to the history books, where it belongs.