Sanofi has extended its links with the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development to discover new treatments for the deadly infectious disease that resulted in almost 1.5 million deaths during 2010.

Under the terms of the pact, the French drugmaker and not-for-profit TB Alliance will collaborate to develop several novel compounds in Sanofi’s library that have demonstrated activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB. This includes "in-depth research of lead compounds based upon identified chemical derivatives of natural products…and the chemical optimisation of other series of compounds that have been identified as hits through high-throughput screening", the partners say.

"We seek a common goal – to give patients and physicians significantly more effective treatments” said Mel Spigelman, chief executive of TB Alliance, adding that "without new regimens, we cannot stop this global pandemic".  Elias Zerhouni, Sanofi's R&D boss, said the deal shows the firm's commitment to TB, noting that it discovered rifampicin, the gold-standard treatment, in the early 1960s.

The deal is an expansion to a previous pact signed between Sanofi and TB Alliance in 2008.