Clinical trials of low-cost drug for infectious diseases

HYDERABAD — The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), in a unique collaborative initiative to develop low-cost drugs for infectious diseases, is all set to taste its first success.

By P S Jayaram

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Published: Thu 29 Nov 2012, 9:04 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 12:57 PM

An anti-Tuberculosis molecule, developed through CSIR’s Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) initiative, will enter the first phase of clinical trials in a few months. This marks a major milestone for OSDD programme that links researchers across the globe to solve key challenges in designing drugs for tropical diseases like malaria and tuberculosis which fail to draw the attention of big pharmaceutical research companies.

The project is based on a portal that provides an open source platform for scientists, doctors, technocrats, software professionals, and students to share knowledge. The collaborative approach, started four years ago, is designed to keep the cost of drug discovery low, thereby making the treatment affordable. “Our target is to get into the first phase of the clinical trial of the anti-TB drug molecule in about six months,” CSIR Director-General Samir K Brahmachari said. He was talking to mediapersons after delivering the 25th Foundation Day lecture of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a CSIR institute here.

India accounts for very high incidence of tuberculosis with over 1,000 deaths being reported every day. Significantly, no new TB drug has come into the market in the last five decades. “This is because the major pharmaceutical companies are not interested in a TB drug as it is seen as a poor man’s disease and does not fetch them enough money,” Brahmachari said.

“By 2022, we want to completely eradicate TB from India. With the availability of the new drug the death rate can be brought down drastically,” he said and termed his organisation’s initiative as unique as it allows the coming together of a pool of scientists interested in contributing their research and ideas for developing the new drug.

The OSDD initiative has been provided a funding of Rs 500 million in the 11th plan and keeping in view the need to find new drugs for Malaria and other diseases, it has been proposed to increase the funding to Rs six billion in the 12th plan period.

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