In 2009, NTM Info & Research and the American Lung Association co-funded a Career Investigator Research Award on in vitro and in vivo testing of agents for activity against M. abscessus. The three-year co-funded grant was awarded to Dr. Mary Ann DeGroote of Colorado State University. Each organization agreed to contribute $30,000 per year, for a total of $180,000 over three years.
The study screened drugs for efficacy against Mycobacterium abscessus, with the goal of finding better drugs to treat this kind of infection.
Dr. DeGroote is an experienced physician who has treated patients suffering from NTM. She has published research papers with Dr. Joseph Falkinham at Virginia Tech, who performed NTMir’s RIPS Water Study, as well as Dr. Gwen Huitt and Dr. David Lynch from National Jewish Health.
During the course of their research, Dr. DeGroote's team discovered that by modifying one of the compounding procedures, the manufacturing process for compounds becomes much easier and more effective. Additionally, they have identified a commercially available drug which they may be able to transform into an effective compound. Its genesis in a commercially available substance would make it less expensive to synthesize compounds for use in drugs used to treat NTM infection.
Another exciting development is the identification of a core chemical fragment in several drugs including one which is already known to work well with ethambutol – a drug which is used to treat some NTM. Using this specific fragment and compounding it with others may eventually yield new drugs in the fight against NTM disease, and because this fragment already exists in other effective drugs, it could potentially accelerate the approval process for new drugs derived from it.
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Mary Ann DeGroote, MD leads the research team for this NTM Info / ALA co-funded project to test various substances which may potentially be developed into new drugs to treat M. abscessus. Dr. DeGroote is an infectious disease physician and researcher at Colorado State University.