Swiss pharmaceutical firm Polyphor received an award from the London-based Wellcome Trust to fund the development of a novel antibiotic drug class that will target strains of resistant bacteria, including those = associated with pneumonia.
Over the next 18 to 24 months, the grant of 2.3 million Swiss francs ($2.29 million) will allow Polyphor to study and develop a group of compounds targeting the outer membrane of bacterial cells, called Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotics (OMPTA), which have shown promise in killing the most resistant strands of bacteria.
Antibiotics resistance — one of the world’s most serious health issues — refers to the ability of bacteria to resist drugs that used to kill them, making infections in humans and animals harder to treat. Too many antibiotic prescriptions as well as the misuse of antibiotics contributes greatly to this problem.
New drugs that target the most resistant pathogens are necessary to treat patients with resistant infections and decrease the costs, hospitalization and mortality associated with such infections.
“The resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a growing and significant global public health issue,” Polyphor CEO Giacomo Di Nepi said in a news release. “The support from Wellcome will help us advance our novel broad-spectrum antibiotics even more expeditiously towards the first clinical trial.”
He added: “Today’s award is yet another validation of our breakthrough antibiotic research which already resulted in Murepavadin, a precision antibiotic for the treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, close to enter pivotal clinical studies.”
Ann Mills-Duggan of Wellcome’s Innovations Division said hundreds of thousands of people die every year from drug-resistant infections.
“If nothing is done, this will increase to millions of people every year by 2050,” said Mills-Duggan, whose agency is the world’s largest medical research charity. “The healthy pipeline of alternative treatments is a vital part of tackling this serious global health problem. This Seeding Drug Discovery award to Polyphor will contribute to this pipeline by supporting the development of a new class of antibiotics.”
This class of broad-spectrum antibiotics has been shown to be effective against certain strains of resistant bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter, as well as strains resistant to colistin — often the last antibiotic option when others have failed.
Polyphor said the first OMPTA candidates to be considered for clinical trials will be known within the next two years.
Aside from the OMPTA class of antibiotics, Polyphor has three lead candidates, including Murepavadin (POL7080), which is currently under testing in a Phase 2 study as a treatment for serious infections by Pseudomonas aeruginosa linked to ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia (VABP). The two other lead candidates are POL6014, under testing as an inhaled treatment for cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases, and Balixafortide (POL6326), under development as a drug for combined therapy in cancer.
Polyphor has also begun the process to submit Murepavadin for market approval to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).