Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Rutgers University, The University of North Carolina and RTI International Announce a DOD Award to Develop Novel Inhaled Antibody Drug Conjugates for Tuberculosis

Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Rutgers University, The University of North Carolina and RTI International Announce a DOD Award to Develop Novel Inhaled Antibody Drug Conjugates For Tuberculosis

Raleigh – The Department of Defense (DOD) recently awarded $213,372.70 to Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CPI), Rutgers University, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RTI International to develop a new approach to treating tuberculosis (TB) which is an infectious disease generally affecting the lungs in humans and is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) that results in 1.4 million deaths per year.

“The approach we proposed to the DOD uses a method that has been used in cancer treatments in which a small molecule drug is attached to an antibody which specifically targets a cell of interest. The antibody-drug conjugate is then internalized, at which point it releases the drug. By using this approach, we hope to be able to specifically tackle granulomas that harbor the TB bacteria and leave surrounding cells well alone” said Dr. Sean Ekins, CEO of CPI.

“My lab will synthesize the antibody-drug conjugates using drugs that on their own would have great difficulty penetrating the granuloma and therefore have little or no efficacy against TB” said Dr. Joel S. Freundlich, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology & Neuroscience and Medicine at Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Freundlich has a chemical biology lab of eleven scientists that utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach to study infectious diseases, with a specific focus on TB.

“We will study the stability of the antibody-drug conjugates and test their efficacy in treating TB in animal models that mimic human TB. This project fits in with my research group’s long standing interest in developing new treatments for TB and our expertise” said Professor Miriam Braunstein. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, UNC School of Medicine at UNC Chapel Hill.

“We also aim to deliver the drug and antibody combination by inhalation much like an asthma inhaler and this leverages our decades of expertise in aerosol drug delivery systems” said Dr. Anthony Hickey, Professor Emeritus, Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC Chapel Hill and Distinguished Fellow, Discovery Science and Technology, RTI International.

The project involves a unique collaboration between academic and small business groups to address a critical need, namely developing a potential treatment that could be delivered for a short period in order to eradicate TB.

About Rutgers University

Founded in 1954, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School is the oldest school of medicine in the state. Today it is part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and graduates approximately 170 physicians a year. Dedicated to excellence in education, research, clinical care and community outreach, the medical school comprises 22 academic departments and works with several healthcare partners, including its principal teaching hospital, The University Hospital. Its faculty consists of numerous world-renowned scientists and many of the region’s “top doctors.” New Jersey Medical School hosts more than 50 centers and institutes, including the Public Health Research Institute Center, the Global Tuberculosis Institute and the Neurological Institute of New Jersey. For more information please visit:

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The UNC School of Medicine (SOM) is the state’s largest medical school graduating approximately 180 new physicians each year. It is consistently ranked among the top medical schools in the US and is among the most well-funded for its research efforts. More than half of the school’s 1,700 faculty members served as principal investigators on active research awards in 2016. Two UNC SOM faculty members have earned Nobel Prize awards.

About the RTI International

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Clients rely on us to answer questions that demand an objective and multidisciplinary approach—one that integrates expertise across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering, and international development. We believe in the promise of science, and we are inspired every day to deliver on that promise for the good of people, communities, and businesses around the world.

For more information, visit

About Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc. performs research and development on innovative therapeutics for multiple rare and infectious diseases. We partner with academics or companies to identify and translate early preclinical to clinical stage assets. We have considerable experience of preclinical and computational approaches to drug discovery and toxicity prediction. For more information, please visit

For further information, please contact :

Sean Ekins, Ph.D., D.Sc.

CEO and Founder,

840 Main Campus Drive, Lab 3510

Raleigh, NC 27606

Tel 215-687-1320