Collaboration will exploit predictive platform to identify more effective, less toxic regimens against MDR-TB.

AstraZeneca and Cellworks initiated a Wellcome Trust-funded collaboration to develop combination treatments for tuberculosis, including multidrug-resistant strains (MDR-TB) that current drug combinations can’t tackle. The project aims to identify combinations of existing anti-infectives that are more effective and less toxic than current combination therapies.

The partners will exploit Cellworks’ predictive platform to model multidrug-resistant TB and rationally identify synergistic drug combinations, the top ten of which AstraZeneca will then validate through in vitro assays and using in vivo models. Cellworks’ platform has to date been used primarily for applications in oncology and autoimmune disorders. The firm says the project with AstraZeneca could lead to application of the technology in the search for treatments against other infectious diseases for which drug resistance is prevalent.

Cellworks was founded in 2005 to further develop a novel drug design approach based on technology that emulates human physiology and predicts clinical outcomes. The firm says the resulting platform combines functional proteomics data with engineering technologies and methods to provide insights into the pathways and phenotypes that a potential drug impacts, and also the degree to which they are positively influenced.

The firm has a pipeline of preclinical programs targeting autoimmune disorders and epithelial-based tumors. Lead compound, CWG952, is ready to start in clinical development as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. 

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