Helperby Therapeutics and Cadila sign antibiotic drug resistance agreement

Cadila will take a new Helperby compound through Phase III trials, approvals and into commercialisation

Helperby Therapeutics, a small UK drug development company based in London, has announced a major breakthrough in the fight against resistance to antibiotics with the discovery of patented ‘resistance breaker’ compounds.

The firm announced the discovery as it signed its first licensing deal with Indian pharmaceutical firm Cadila Pharmaceuticals.

No financial information has been disclosed about the deal, but it could contribute to Helperby scaling up to a £500m operation, with the potential to create up to 1,000 jobs by 2019.

Helperby, a spin-out of the University of London St George’s, in Tooting, has been working for the past 12 years on ways to tackle antibiotic resistance and has discovered a new series of potent, fast-acting drugs which rescue old antibiotics. Instead of targeting multiplying bacteria, the research team focused on non-multiplying, dormant bacteria. Developing antibiotics that specifically target these root-like bacteria has never been done before, the company says – in fact conventional methods of screening have consistently missed these promising drug candidates.

Helperby's lead compound, HT61, has proven effective in Phase II studies where, combined with an existing antibiotic, it boosted the effect of an old antibiotic. HT61 depolarises the bacterial cell membrane boosting the anti-Staphylococcal effect of an old antibiotic for the decolonisation of the nose prior to hospitalisation. This study demonstrated that it is feasible to boost the effect of old antibiotics in humans – in essence rejuvenating a range of existing antibiotics.

This discovery will open new avenues against resistant organisms and is very timely in view of global concerns about rapidly growing bacterial resistance

HT61 also renders a number of old antibiotics active against highly resistant bacteria, hence it has been called an 'antibiotic resistance breaker'.

Helperby will supply these antibiotic resistance breakers to Cadila, while Cadila will develop the combinations with old antibiotics.

The Indian firm Cadila will take the compound through Phase III trials, approvals and into commercialisation. It expects to bring the first product to market in around 18 months' time.

'This discovery will open new avenues against resistant organisms and is very timely in view of global concerns about rapidly growing bacterial resistance against current antibiotics,' said Cadila’s Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Modi.

'Cadila Pharmaceutical’s collaboration with Helperby can help mankind win the battle against the microbes and hopefully save millions of lives in coming years.'

Helperby has 300 small molecules and seven further programmes at the preclinical stage, targeted at systemic and topical infection (Gram-positive and Gram-negative) and indicated for a range of conditions including UTI, GUI, CF, skin and mucosal bacterial and fungal infections, eye and ear infections. With 49 patent applications in place the company is looking for further collaborative partners to fast-track these drugs to market.

Companies