The not-for-profit organization TB Alliance will receive up to $5.1 million from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) to advance the discovery and development of treatments for multidrug-resistant nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections in people with cystic fibrosis (CF).
TB Alliance will partner with Johns Hopkins University over the next three years to find and test potential treatments for infections caused by the two NTM types: Mycobacterium abscessus and Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), according to a CFF press release.
These infections are challenging to treat, often requiring more than a year of antibiotics that provide no guaranteed cure, and have a risk of severe side effects. According to the CFF patient registry, which collects clinical information from volunteering CF patients, the two NTM types caused most CF-associated infections in 2017.
The group of bacteria that make up the different types of NTM, including M. abscessus and MAC, are related to those that cause tuberculosis (TB). In developing therapies for that disease, which are now being evaluated in patients, TB Alliance identified three classes of chemical compounds with the potential to target the two NTM bacteria.
With this funding, TB Alliance will individually screen these compounds, with a goal of producing therapies for CF that are more effective than the available treatments.
One of the main problems in developing NTM treatment strategies is the lack of animal models that can mimic the different features of CF. That makes it difficult for researchers to accurately predict the effects of treatments and their expected outcomes before testing them on people.
TB Alliance will partner with Johns Hopkins to develop mouse models to study NTM infections. The university previously developed a predictive model for TB that served to evaluate potential TB therapies.
The two “will work to develop a preclinical model for chronic NTM infections to help identify which regimens — or combinations of drugs — are likely to be most effective in people,” the release states.
The nonprofit U.S.-based CFF has funded several treatment approaches for CF patients, particularly those with chronic complications and problematic CF-related infections. The foundation committed $100 million last year to launch its Infection Research Initiative for the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of CF-associated infections.
The TB Alliance is a product development partnership that advances treatments for tuberculosis, while maintaining direct management oversight of its projects.