New Breakthrough Tuberculosis Drug Tested at Colorado State University

Note to Reporters: Video and photos of Anne Lenaerts and Ian Orme and a complete description of the tuberculosis innovation occurring at Colorado State are available at

Scientists at Colorado State University, one of the world’s top tuberculosis research laboratories, have helped test the first new tuberculosis drug approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 40 years.

Johnson & Johnson recently announced that the drug bedaquiline had obtained initial approval for the treatment of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis – a rapidly growing and dangerous strain of tuberculosis that now afflicts more than 650,000 people around the world.

Bedaquiline was discovered by the Johnson and Johnson Company in Belgium in 2005. In 2007, a research team led by Anne Lenaerts and Ian Orme at CSU published a paper with collaborators at J&J revealing that the drug showed fast-acting, highly effective treatment of tuberculosis. Colorado State is known internationally for its tuberculosis research programs, which includes work on developing and testing drugs and vaccines against the disease.

The university’s tuberculosis researchers – the largest group in the nation – have attracted more than $93 million in funding since 1981. For more information, go to

To watch short videos on researchers at CSU on YouTube:

Ian Orme:

Ann Lenaerts:

“The drug was very potent in these models, clearing infections even at relatively low drug concentrations with superior activity when compared to a conventional three-drug regimen,” said Orme, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology at CSU. “In addition, in more recent work we were able to show that adding bedaquiline to other drugs significantly reduced the time needed to treat infections in experimental rodent models.

“The action by the FDA follows the results of new clinical trials of bedaquiline that have recently shown that the drug significantly reduces the duration of treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in patients, thus confirming the results of our studies performed at CSU,” Orme said. “This new drug by Johnson and Johnson is a huge breakthrough and is likely to be very promising in treating people around the world with MDR TB, including the United States, who face this very real threat.”

Lenaerts and Orme are members of the university’s Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, which includes the Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory – one of the most secure laboratories of its kind in the world where researchers can work with drug-resistant tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. Orme co-founded the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories, which now includes a research team of more than 100 research personnel, including 19 faculty members.

Tuberculosis research at Colorado State has been funded largely by the National Institutes of Health and more recently by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 2012, Lenaerts, an associate professor of Mycobacterial Therapeutics in the Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology department, received a $1.2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a laboratory model that better mimics how human lungs respond to infection with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Lenaerts is developing a model that will target persisting strains of tuberculosis bacteria, which are the most difficult to treat.

The grant was one of five Gates Foundation grants totaling $3.65 million awarded last year to Colorado State tuberculosis researchers.