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SBU Collaborates with Sanofi on Tuberculosis Drug

Iwao OjimaProfessor Iwao Ojima, Director of the Institute of Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery (ICB&DD) and a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Stony Brook University, recently announced a multi-year research collaboration with Sanofi, a multinational pharmaceutical company, on a potential treatment for Tuberculosis (TB) and other bacterial infections.

Ojima and a team of researchers at the ICB&DD have discovered novel compounds that inhibit bacterial cell division by interfering with a critical cellular protein called FtsZ, which is essential for bacterial cell maintenance and division. By interfering with FtsZ assembly, the bacteria are unable to maintain, divide and propagate. ICB&DD researchers are working with Sanofi to optimize these novel benzimidazole-based compounds with the objective of identifying drug candidates ready for investigational new drug (IND) filing and clinical development in the treatment of TB, especially multi-drug resistant TB.

“This is an exciting collaboration as we partner with a global pharmaceutical leader in developing a new and efficacious TB drug based on our discovery,” said Ojima.

TB, a lethal and highly contagious infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is second only to HIV as the most deadly infectious disease worldwide. TB bacterium usually attacks the lungs, but can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain. Transmitted through the air by coughing and sneezing, TB may lay dormant in the body in a latent state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one third of the world’s population may be infected with latent TB and approximately 12 million people suffer from active infection. It is treated with a combination of antibiotics over the course of six months or more, making it a long, complicated and difficult to follow treatment regimen. Not adhering to the treatment course can lead to the development of multi-drug resistant and extremely drug resistant TB. New drug targets and treatments are needed to shorten treatment times and improve outcomes.

“This discovery could be a significant breakthrough in the global treatment of the most resistant forms of tuberculosis; it is exactly the kind of breakthrough discovery that Stony Brook continues to pursue,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D. “On behalf of Stony Brook University, I congratulate Dr. Ojima and the Institute, and we look forward to more great news out of Sanofi as they work to bring this important new drug to use.”

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