FORT COLLINS--Two groups of investigators in Colorado State University's microbiology department have received $6.25 million to continue groundbreaking research programs into drugs that can cure tuberculosis.
A research team led by Patrick Brennan, professor of microbiology, will receive more than $2.9 million for four years to identify drugs that can cure the disease. A University Distinguished Professor, Brennan and teammates will work in cooperation with a major pharmaceutical firm to do so.
Another group of researchers led by Ian Orme, professor of microbiology, has received a seven-year, $3.4 million contract to test the efficacy of proposed anti-tuberculosis drugs. Funding comes from the National Institutes of Health.
Brennan's approach involves an unusual collaboration with pharmaceutical manufacturer SmithKline Beecham. His drug discovery program will fund two postdoctoral students to work on site at SmithKline Beecham headquarters near Philadelphia, using the company's extensive testing and research infrastructure to find matches for potential anti-TB compounds identified at Colorado State.
American research on vaccines and anti-TB drugs almost ceased a few decades ago as public health officials assumed the disease was on the way to eradication, just as smallpox was. However, tuberculosis is now the leading bacterial killer in the world, causing 10 million new cases and 3 million deaths each year. It is resurgent in developing countries and, in America, in prison populations, among the homeless and in HIV/AIDS-infected patients, Orme said. A factor in its comeback and one of particular concern is that some strains are resistant to several anti-TB drugs. Easily spread through modern airline travel worldwide, Orme describes them as "a global disaster."
Brennan and colleagues are looking at older drugs, natural products and synthesized compounds that show some anti-TB mechanism. Those that do are sent to the postdoctoral researcher
Contact: David Weymiller
Colorado State University