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Broad Institute Gets $20M Gift to Battle Tuberculosis with Genomic Technology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A group of more than 20 philanthropists is providing $20 million in funding to the Broad Institute to use genomic technology to address the problem of drug-resistant tuberculosis. 

Led by Seth Klarman, CEO and president of the Baupost Group, and Bill Ackman, co-founder of the Pershing Square Foundation and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, the group is providing the gift to the Broad to use genomic tools and methods to explore the "biological mysteries" of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and better understand how the bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics. 

According to the Broad, the financing will go toward the development of a rapid diagnostic test for drug-resistant TB, which could result in more effective and earlier treatment. Researchers will use libraries of genetically altered TB strains to investigate questions surrounding the disease, such as how it becomes antibiotic-resistant and why treatment takes so long. 

The Broad also is seeking to set a course to develop new drugs which could shorten the time it takes to treat TB. Currently, the treatment regime takes up to six months of antibiotics, which often have side effects and cause patients to prematurely stop taking the drugs, fueling drug resistance, the Broad said. It noted that more than 2 billion people across the world are infected with TB, and almost 2 million people die from the disease each year.