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Evotec receives US$ 6.6 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for drug discovery in tuberculosis

Hamburg, Germany
Monday, March 27, 2023, 15:00 Hrs  [IST]

Evotec SE announced that the company has received a US$ 6.6 million grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for drug discovery in tuberculosis (TB). The grant is the second award from the foundation to Evotec supporting TB drug discovery, and allows the Company to progress a portfolio of TB drug discovery projects that have the potential to contribute to a universal, shorter, safer and simpler TB drug regimen.

The current regimen for drug-sensitive TB, the most common and easiest-to-treat form of TB, requires that patients take multiple drugs for six or more months under clinical monitoring. Patients with drug-resistant TB face longer and more complex treatment regimens, often with significant side effects. A shorter drug regimen that can treat TB irrespective of pre-existing drug resistance could provide a significant benefit to both patients and health systems.

Dr Werner Lanthaler, chief executive officer of Evotec, commented: “We are honoured to have been awarded another grant by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The rise of drug-resistant TB and the complex and time-consuming way of treating patients highlight the urgent need for next-generation treatment options for all forms of TB. The grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation allows us to continue and expand our commitment to global health, to make a meaningful contribution to achieve targets set under the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 3 and to enable simpler, safer and faster treatment for patients worldwide.”

24 March marks the day that Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB in 1882, opening the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease. Each year, this date is commemorated as World TB Day to raise awareness that TB is still a major global cause of illness, disability and catastrophic household costs. It is the second leading cause of death from an infectious disease worldwide and responsible for an estimated 1.6 million deaths per year.

Tuberculosis is an airborne infectious disease most commonly caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. It usually affects the lungs but can spread to other parts of the body as well. Tuberculosis is among the leading causes of death by infectious disease and is the 13th deadliest disease worldwide. In 2021, 10.6 million people contracted TB, and 1.6 million died from the disease. TB is also a leading cause of death for people living with HIV, with about 187,000 of such patients dying in 2021. Multidrug-resistant TB remains a public health crisis and a health security threat. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2021 there were 450,000 new cases with resistance to rifampicin and isoniazid, the two most effective first-line TB drugs. As a result of years of inadequate diagnosis and treatment, these types of drug-resistant TB are more difficult and costly to treat, highlighting the urgent need for new, better, faster-acting treatments.

Evotec maintains a significant presence in TB drug discovery and translational science and is a member of several global collaborations of philanthropic, non-profit, and private sector organisations, e.g. the TB Drug Accelerator Programme (TBDA), the ERA4TB (European Accelerator of Tuberculosis Regimens) and the Project to Accelerate New Treatments for Tuberculosis (PAN-TB collaboration). These collaborations work together to accelerate the discovery and development of novel TB drugs and regimens that will provide superior treatment options for all TB patients.

In 2019, Evotec received a previous US$ 23.8 m grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to discover new treatment regimens that better address TB. The main objective of the five-year partnership is to generate standardised, high-quality pre-clinical data to support novel regimen selection and development.

Evotec is a life science company with a unique business model that delivers on its mission to discover and develop highly effective therapeutics and make them available to the patients.


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