Japan-based healthcare firm Otsuka Pharmaceutical has secured funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate clinical development of the investigational compound OPC-167832 to treat tuberculosis (TB).

The $10m grant will be used to investigate OPC-167832 in combination with delamanid during a trial designed to use multiple-ascending-dose and early-bactericidal-activity studies in drug-susceptible patients.

Discovered by the firm, OPC-167832 is designed to block the DprE1 enzyme that is known to be involved in the mycobacterial cell wall-related synthesis.

Delamanid inhibits the synthesis of an essential component of mycobacterial cell walls called mycolic acid. The drug is currently marketed as Deltyba in Japan, the EU, South Korea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, India, and Turkey.

“The successful development of a pan-TB regimen could be a real game-changer in this field.”

Set to be initiated in the fourth quarter of this year, the new trial is expected to allow further evaluation of the potential anti-TB combination as critical part of a pan-TB regimen.

A pan-TB regimen will offer an effective, three or four drug, fully oral and safe therapy, which can be given to majority of active TB patients, regardless of their drug resistance profile.

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Otsuka Pharmaceutical TB global project leader Keiso Yamasaki said: “The challenge of eliminating TB is too large for any single company, institution or government to take on alone.

“Working together, the successful development of a pan-TB regimen could be a real game-changer in this field.”

Last year, the firm’s indirect subsidiary Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialisation assessed OPC-167832 in a single-ascending-dose Phase I trial.