Focus is on designing therapies with shorter treatment regimens and streamlining development.

The U.K. International Development Minister, Ivan Lewis, announced an £18 million, or $24.38 million, research funding package for the TB Alliance.

The money will support the discovery of life-saving drugs designed to shorten treatment duration and be effective against both drug-susceptible and drug-resistant strains of TB. It will also go toward strategic initiatives to streamline and potentially revolutionize the process by which new TB treatments are developed.

The £18 million allocation is part of a £220 million commitment from the U.K. government made in November 2008 for diseases like HIV, TB, and malaria.

Current treatment requires multiple antibiotics to be administered over a period of up to 24 to 30 months. There is concern that the economic downturn could lead to a lack of sustained funding for research and prevent the discovery of more effective treatments.

“The reality is that people living on just over 90 pence a day can’t afford to be away from their families or jobs for prolonged treatment,” says Lewis. “That is why tuberculosis killed 1.65 million people last year—approximately one person every 20 seconds.”

“The international community needs to reduce the human toll of this epidemic by making the discovery of more effective treatments a priority. That is why we are supporting research by the TB Alliance towards the development of new oral treatments that will save millions of lives.”

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