InnoCentive Seeker Spotlight: TB Alliance Works to Eradicate One of the World's Deadliest Diseases

Posted by Connie French on Dec 4, 2008 10:09:26 AM

Yesterday we announced that a Challenge posted on the InnoCentive Marketplace by the TB Alliance seeking cost-effective methods of manufacturing TB drugs had been solved. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Takushi Kaneko, Ph.D. Project Leader, Research for TB Alliance about the program and the impact of the innovations provided by the InnoCentive Solver.

Hi Dr. Kaneko - congratulations on receiving a solution to your recent Challenge.  Can you tell me a bit about your organization?

Thank you Connie.  Absolutely.  The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development (TB Alliance) is a not-for-profit, product development partnership (PDP) dedicated to accelerating the discovery and development of new and improved drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB).

We work with public and private partners worldwide and lead the development of the most comprehensive portfolio of TB drug candidates in history.

We seek to develop drugs that will shorten treatment, be effective against susceptible and resistant strains of TB, and be compatible with antiretroviral therapies for those HIV-TB patients currently on such therapies.

Additionally, the TB Alliance mission includes an explicit commitment to what we call "AAA": Affordability, Adoption and Availability to ensure that new treatments reach the patients who need them, many of those patients being in the developing world.


What problem were you trying to address with your Challenge and how will the solution you selected help?

Today's TB drug regimen takes too long to administer and requires too many pills. The current treatment course consists of four medicines and is more than 40 years old.  It works for active, drug-susceptible TB - as long as patients complete the six- to nine-month treatment. Many TB patients do not complete this lengthy regimen, and are not cured. Non-compliance has led to the development of deadly, drug-resistant strains.

Compounds within our portfolio are being developed to improve and simplify the current TB treatment regimen.

In this Challenge, the TB Alliance was seeking a theoretical solution to simplify the manufacturing process of one of our furthest advanced compounds. The initial manufacturing process was complicated and costly. If the solution we selected proves to be successful in practice, it will improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the method by which we produce the compound.  Minimizing the cost of production is important because it directly relates to the TB Alliance's commitments to affordability and availability.

Why did your organization choose to work with InnoCentive?

As a non-profit, we don't have the luxury of an entire department devoted to optimizing manufacturing processes, such as those found in some of the largest pharmaceutical companies.  In InnoCentive, we saw a unique mechanism to leverage the power of intellectual resources scattered around the world. By posting the Challenge with InnoCentive, and through the process of gathering responses, we were able to solicit, and then analyze a wide variety of approaches to attempt to solve a complicated problem.

What were your impressions of the solutions submitted by Solvers?

We received creative, high caliber proposals from all over the world.  We chose what we thought to be the best of those proposals and are now in the process of implementing them. If they prove successful, we hope to utilize a similar approach when faced with complex problems in the future.

What would you like our Solvers to know about open innovation in the non-profit sector?

The TB Alliance is a not-for-profit product development partnership (PDP). PDPs build partnerships between the public, private, academic, and philanthropic sectors to drive the development of new products for underserved markets. That model allows, and compels PDPs, like the TB Alliance, to apply a wide range of tools and knowledge to their programs.

PDPs are created for the public good; their products are made affordable to all those who need them.

The flexible structure of the PDP model produces agile organizations that are receptive to the latest innovations, regardless of their origin. By design and necessity, the not-for-profit, PDP sector is a space that welcomes innovations, and puts them to use for the public good, touching those in most desperate need and most difficult to reach. Additionally, by having a comprehensive network of researchers in the field, we are in position to connect and organize scientists and organizations in order to expedite research in areas where the need is high but the resources may not be abundant.

Thanks Dr. Kaneko - our Solvers always appreciate hearing directly from Seekers.

My pleasure.

Topics: Innovation Insights, Challenges, Seekers

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