One of the Stop TB Partnership's seven Working Groups, the Working Group on New Drugs (WGND) is a network of experts committed to accelerating the development of effective and affordable new therapies for TB. The WGND acts as a forum to facilitate global collaborations and joint projects for the development of new TB drugs and promotes coordination of all stakeholders in this process.
WGND members individually and collectively support the field of TB drug research by conducting support activities and initiatives, and providing input into core publications and public policy recommendations developed by the Stop TB Partnership. Membership in the WGND is open and inclusive and members meet each year to review activities, develop strategy and measure progress against goals outlined in the Global Plan to Stop TB. The Subgroups of the WGND focus on key challenge areas for TB drug development.
The Stop TB Partnership, established in 2000 is a global community of hundreds of organizations working together to eliminate TB as a global public health problem. Several Working Groups advance the mission of the Stop TB Partnership. In 2001, the Working Group on New Drugs (WGND) established as its goal the development of new and affordable drugs for the treatment of TB. The WGND conducts support activities and acts as a forum to facilitate global collaborations for the development of new TB drugs. Some of these activities have included:
Today's TB drug regimen takes too long to be effective and requires too many medications. Treatment of drug sensitive disease requires 6-9 months whereas treatment of drug-resistant TB is even lengthier, taking 18-24 months or longer. Second-line drugs are also much more toxic and considerably more expensive than the standard first-line anti TB-regimen. Furthermore, current first-line treatment regimens are not compatible with certain common antiretroviral (ARV) therapies used to treat HIV/AIDS. Therefore, new drugs are needed that will be effective in treating children, and latent TB infection (an asymptomatic infection), and will be compatible with antiretroviral therapy. Additionally, new regimens need to be affordable and easily managed in the field.
The introduction of new drugs, preferably with novel mechanisms of action, which will be active against current drug-resistant strans, and fewer TB drug side effects, will hopefully allow for a shorter TB regimen for both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant disease. Shortening treatment to four or two months or even less should increase cure rates, improve patient adherence, and lessen the likelihood of bacterial strains developing drug resistance.
A robust and sustainable pipeline of TB drug candidates and discovery programs is essential for the successful development of new TB drug regimens. With the aim of increasing efficiency and coordination of the global TB drug R&D enterprise through information exchange, the WGND conducts an annual survey of the global TB drugs pipeline. The WGND has now launched a dynamic web based survey with the aim of gathering comprehensive information and "real-time" updates in the field of TB drug R&D. We hope to receive maximum participation from the TB drug development community so that this information can serve as a central database and a reference tool for global TB drug discovery, advocacy and resource mobilization.