The Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation and Weill Cornell Medical College join forces on Tuberculosis drug discovery

Despite major advances in high-throughput screening and genomic technologies, TB drug development remains hindered by a general inability to measure the effective penetration of a given compound into Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria which cause TB. To try and address this gap, the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation has awarded Weill Cornell Medical College funding to support a two-year research project that measures and analyses the permeability of chemical compounds into Mtb using novel metabolomics technology.

This project will also examine broader chemical principles that could be used to transform potentially powerful chemical inhibitors into active drugs, a significant bottleneck in current anti-infective drug research.

Welcoming the news, Prof. Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Trustee and Chair of the Governing Board at Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation said; “This is a project that will help to understand what chemical properties are needed for activity against Mtb. It could set the foundations to design better anti-TB drugs”,

Open Lab Scientist Dr. Saki Raheem, a post-doctoral researcher at Weill Cornell, will work in an integrated team alongside GSK researchers and will have access to resources, chemical compounds and laboratory space to perform this novel TB research project. During his time at the Open Lab, Dr. Raheem will screen and analyze hundreds of potential anti-tuberculosis compounds from GSK’s compound library.

This research at the open lab builds on exciting findings published by Prof. Rhee in Science last month. The study demonstrated that current mass spectrometry technologies could be repurposed to study existing TB drugs and directly visualize what happens as they infiltrated TB cells. This study was the first to show how mass spectrometry technology can be adapted to understand the action of antibiotics on living, intact bacterial cells.

About the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation

The Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation is focused on providing funding and support for scientists, academics and institutions to develop and advance new ideas that could lead to new medicines to treat diseases of the developing world. Researchers are invited to submit projects for collaboration and funding, to be reviewed by the Foundation’s Governing Board and Trustees.

About Weill Cornell Medical College

Weill Cornell University’s medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston.