Calibr, the drug development division of Scripps Research, is passing one of its discoveries to take on tuberculosis to the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute.
On Feb. 15, Calibr announced it was entering a strategic licensing agreement to advance and develop an investigational compound discovered by Scripps researchers that may be a treatment for tuberculosis.
Under the agreement, Calibr will transition compound CLB073 to Gates MRI for further, and exclusive, development.
“Eradicating tuberculosis will require enhancing the world’s current therapeutic options—meaning shortening treatment duration and overcoming drug resistance,” said Case McNamara, Ph.D., senior director of Infectious Disease at Calibr. “At Calibr, we have been working with collaborators, through the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to discover and develop novel medicines for diseases that require improved treatment regimens, such as tuberculosis. We hope our collaboration with Gates MRI to advance CLB073 will ultimately be able to help the millions of people who contract this deadly disease.”
Calibr and Scripps Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have strong ties going back to 2014 with the foundation’s first grant to Calibr.
Last year, the Gates Foundation continued its support for Calibr with a 10-year, $100 million grant renewal for global health initiatives to develop next-generation medicines to address neglected diseases that drive health inequities, such as malaria and tuberculosis.
“There are countless diseases that require new and better treatment options, such as malaria and tuberculosis, and any number of viruses that could spur the next pandemic,” said Arnab Chatterjee, Ph.D., vice president of Medicinal Chemistry at Calibr. “With the continuous support of our funding partners, we are able to help fuel a new generation of medicines that show promise in addressing some of today’s most significant global health threats.”
Tuberculosis is a major global cause of illness and disability and is one of the leading causes of death from an infectious disease worldwide, responsible for an estimated 1.5 million deaths per year.
The disease is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which has the ability to establish a prolonged infection in the defense cells of lungs responsible for killing infections from microorganisms.
To develop a drug capable of targeting Mtb in a new way, scientists at Calibr collaborated with researchers at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and together they discovered and pre-clinically studied CLB073, which uses a novel mechanism to weaken Mtb’s ability to survive in lung cells.
With this novel mechanism, CLB073 holds the potential to complement the current tuberculosis standard of care, with the intent of improving efficacy and shortening the duration of treatment time. This is especially critical for multidrug-resistant Mtb, which has compromised many frontline drugs.
The most commonly used treatment for drug-sensitive tuberculosis requires patients to take multiple drugs over several months with routine clinical monitoring. Patients with drug-resistant forms of the infection can face longer and more complex treatments, often with significant side effects that require increased monitoring.
In preclinical mouse studies, CLB073 significantly enhanced efficacy of the Nix-TB drug regimen — the tuberculosis standard of care for drug-resistant tuberculosis.
The collaborative work with the Cornell researchers was executed through the TB Drug Accelerator, a partnership for tuberculosis drug discovery and development funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Tuberculosis is one of the world’s most significant infectious causes of human disease and death,” said Emilio Emini, Ph.D., CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute. “CLB073, discovered by Calibr scientists and now licensed to the Gates MRI for further development, may represent a potentially important constituent of future TB therapeutic regimens.”
CEO: Peter Shultz
Business: Medical and scientific research institute
Headquarters: La Jolla
Revenue: Over $320 million (2020)
Notable: Leveraging the unique scientific framework of Scripps Research, Calibr has created a portfolio of drug candidates based on Scripps technologies and is shaping a new paradigm for advancing nonprofit biomedical research to impact patients.