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Gates MRI Licenses Calibr Tuberculosis Treatment Discovery

PHARMA: Novel Compound Can Potentially Complement Current Care

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.

Case McNamara, Ph.D.
Senior Director, Infectious  Disease 

“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.”

Strong Ties

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.

Arnab Chatterjee, Ph.D.
VP, Medicinal Chemistry

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.”

Tackling Tuberculosis

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.

Emilio Emini,  Ph.D.
Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute

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.”

Scripps Research

Founded: 1924
CEO: Peter Shultz
Business: Medical and scientific research institute
Headquarters: La Jolla
Employees: 2,400+
Revenue: Over $320 million (2020)
Website: scripps.edu
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.


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