Project Overview

An ambitious four-year project to discover and develop potential new medicines against multiple drug resistance tuberculosis (TB) has been launched by an international consortium of 12 diverse groups.

The ORCHID alliance (Open Collaborative Model for Tuberculosis Lead Optimization) brings together TB expertise from academia, government research centres, non-for-profit organizations and small biotechnology companies with funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7). Under the leadership of the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, more than 25 scientists worldwide will pool their expertise to investigate the potential of three different areas of research, all of which have shown potential activity against TB.

The aim is to complete drug discovery research to have identified and validated a novel candidate molecule ready to be tested in humans. It is only through the collaboration of such diverse experts group that all three areas can be progressed in a coordinated fashion.

The three areas to be investigated are:

  • β-lactams  new evidence suggests a novel approach could make these broad spectrum antibioitics effective against TB. This approach will seek to design new animal models to demonstrate the potential of B-lactams as treatments against TB.
  • New InhA inhibitors – GSK in collaboration with TB Alliance have recently identified a chemical series that can inhibit recognised known TB target (InhA), which is essential for the bacterium’s survival. Tool compounds in this series have shown activity against multi drug resistant strains (MDR-TB) in the lab and have also demonstrated promising activity in animal models of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
  • Whole-cell hits – Compounds that have been shown to be active against TB in high through put screening, but their mode of action is unknown. The project will aim to understand this activity.

Dr David Barros, a Director of TB research at GlaxoSmithKline’s Tres Cantos Medicines Discovery Campus in Madrid, Spain, will lead the project, coordinating the activities of the different groups.

Commenting on the alliance, he said: “TB is often viewed as a historical problem. But with around 1.7 million deaths from TB each year (source:, it is a very real health problem of today and there is an urgent need for new medicines. This project will enable all of us to share expertise, and thereby speed up our search for new medicines.”


About ORCHID        

ORCHID is a €10M research project which is receiving €5.4M. from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research.  The rest of the funds will come from the ORCHID partners, largely from the provision of expertise and resources.

The 12 partners that make up ORCHID are:

  • The University of Birmingham – Birmingham,  UK
  • Univerza v Ljubljani – Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) – Nantes, France
  • Global Alliance for Tuberculosis Drug Development – New York, US
  • Nanologica AB – Stockholm, Sweden
  • Cellzome AG – Heidelberg. Germany
  • Universite Pierre et Marie Curie – Paris, France
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) – Lausanne, Switzerland
  • The Federal State Scientific Institution Saint-Petersburg Scientific Research Pasteur Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology – Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • Federal State Institution Saint Petersburg Research Institute of Phthisiopulmonology of the Federal Agency for High Technology Medical Aid – Saint Petersburg, Russia
  • Institut Pasteur Korea – Bundang gu, Korea
  • GSK Tres Cantos Medicines Development Campus- Madrid, Spain


About FP7                                                                                        

FP7 is the largest single research programme in the world, with a budget of more than € 50 billion – for 2007-2013.

By adopting the Europe 2020 strategy, Europe’s political leaders have put research and innovation at the top of the European political agenda, making it the cornerstone of investment in sustainable growth and jobs.