Antimicrobial drug pipelines presented at ECCMID

Novel antibiotics are under development to overcome antibacterial resistance

As Big Pharma continues to move away from the development of antibacterial treatments, small biotechnology companies and start-ups are rising to the challenge and filling the gap through the discovery and development of novel therapies.

Some of these firms presented details of their work in this area during the annual congress (ECCMID) of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) in Amsterdam.

New approaches fall into three key categories: targeted therapies, adjunctive therapies and potentiators.

Targeted therapies include traditional antibiotics and antibodies that are active against a single pathogen, especially Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Adjunctive therapies include drugs that target virulence factors, biofilm formation, immune system stimulation, modifying the microbiome, and phages. All such approaches require an active antibiotic.

Potentiators include an adjuvant drug, such as beta-lactamase-inhibitors or efflux pump inhibitors, to improve the activity of an antibiotic by inhibiting resistance determinants, either facilitating the penetration or changing the sensitivity of the bacterial cell.

Innovative researchers in small companies or universities are pursuing a range of non-traditional approaches in addition to classical ones

Spero, Cidara and Melinta Therapeutics attended from the US and Vitas Pharma from India. European biotechnology companies making presentations included Discuva, Bioversys and Morphochem. In addition, a publicly funded research institution, the German Centre for Infection Research, also made a presentation.

Discuva, Bioversys and Spero Therapeutics highlighted their drug discovery approaches and compounds against multidrug resistant bacteria, while Morphochem spoke about its MCB 368 drug against Clostridium difficile, which is now in Phase II clinical trials.

Melinta’s new antibiotic, a fluoroquinolone, is currently in Phase III clinical studies, while its drug discovery platform includes compounds against the most resistant pathogens.

Cidara Therapeutics’ CD101 IV antifungal therapy for the treatment of candida infections is currently in a Phase I trial. Additionally, the firm designs immunomodulating approaches to support the activity of antibiotics in the therapy of infections.

Vitas Pharma is developing a number of targeted therapies including one that is currently undergoing toxicology studies for MRSA treatment.

The German Centre of Infection Research’s targeted therapies are aimed at the optimisation of the cystobactamides class of broad-spectrum antibiotics and vaccination against Staphyloccus aureus bacteraemia and related complications.

Dr Ursula Theuretzbacher, founder of the Centre for Anti-Infective Agents in Vienna, said: 'We are pleased to see a number of highly promising antibacterial drugs of a new class and or a new mode of action now in the research or close to the preclinical phase.

'To aid the development of more drug candidates, crucial to increasing the chances of a sufficient number reaching the clinical stage, innovative researchers in small companies or universities are pursuing a range of non-traditional approaches in addition to classical ones.'

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