Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis has entered into an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance), to provide drug candidate compounds to fight tuberculosis (TB).

The drug candidate compounds have been discovered at the Novartis Institutes for Tropical Diseases (NITD).

As part of the agreement, NITD will provide its TB research and development programme to TB Alliance, which in turn will assume financial and operational responsibility for continued research, development, approval and distribution of compounds in the portfolio.

"Our long-standing partnership with Novartis gives us confidence in the scientific underpinnings of the TB portfolio."

Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research president Mark Fishman said: "TB is one of the scourges of the developing world and new medicines are desperately needed to combat its continued spread."

"TB Alliance is well placed to take our discoveries and compounds through development for the benefit of patients with TB."

The portfolio includes a class of drugs known as indolcarboxamides, which are active against multiresistant and drug-sensitive strains of TB.

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NITD304 is one of the pre-clinical compounds that is capable of blocking MmpL3, a protein essential for the TB bacterium’s survival.

TB Alliance president and CEO Mel Spigelman said: "Our long-standing partnership with Novartis gives us confidence in the scientific underpinnings of the TB portfolio."

The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that around 8.6 million cases of TB are reported every year, with more than 1.3 million deaths annually.