Action TB: Tackling Multidrug Resistance

October 22, 1997

This morning the World Health Organisation presented global data showing "hot spots" of drug resistant tuberculosis. Action TB, an international collaborative research initiative, was set up by Glaxo Wellcome to meet the growing need for new medicines to treat drug resistant TB. A statement outlining the current position of Action TB research is provided below.

Statement follows:
"The World Health Organization has highlighted the growing threat from multidrug resistant TB. We believe that the research tools are in place to tackle this threat," said Dr Ken Duncan, leader of Action TB.

Finding new treatments for multidrug resistant TB is the key goal of the Action TB programme. Set up in 1993 with an initial £10 million from Glaxo Wellcome, this international research programme is making great strides towards finding solutions to this ever growing problem.

"Over the past four years we have learned a great deal about how to attack multidrug resistant TB. We have identified several potential drug targets, points at which the bacterium is vulnerable. We are particularly excited about the cell wall targets recently identified by Action TB collaborators at Colorado State University and are currently evaluating rationally designed inhibitors of these enzymes. As with other targets we are investigating, we are focusing our efforts on structures that are completely different from existing drugs. The hope is that drugs developed from these new structures will be less susceptible to the development of resistance and may offer desirable properties, such as a shorter treatment course."

"With the completion of the TB genome sequence, funded by the Wellcome Trust, means that we now have access to the sequence of all potential drug targets. This information dramatically reduces the time it takes to identify and evaluate potential targets and allows us to screen many more, thereby increasing the likelihood of finding a new drug candidate. This in turn allows us to clone the protein and develop an expression system. With these tools in place, we are poised to make significant progress."

Action TB researchers are tackling the problem of drug resistance from all angles - from identification of metabolic pathways essential for survival through to uncovering the complex interactions between the host immune system and the mycobacterium.

Action TB represents the largest research commitment by any pharmaceutical company towards new treatments for TB. Glaxo Wellcome firmly believes that real breakthroughs in TB treatment will only come from drugs that attack completely new targets or seek to modify the host's own response to disease. Such treatments are on the horizon. The challenge is to make optimal use of the data already generated by the Action TB team and others working in the TB field to bring new drugs to the patient.

Further information on the WHO report can be found on Further information about Action TB can be found on


For more information please contact:

Philip Connolly, Group Public Affairs, Glaxo Wellcome plc, Glaxo Wellcome House, Berkeley Avenue, Greenford, Middx, UB6 0NN. Tel: +44 181 966 8185, Fax: +44 181 966 8827, e-mail

Emma Weitkamp or Claire Gale, Hayhurst Conington Cripps Ltd, 39-40 Bridge Street, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 1HP. Tel: +44 1483 414182, Fax: +44 1483 414157, e-mail

GlaxoSmithKline US

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