Xellia enters 4-year antibiotics collaboration

To develop drugs against multi-drug resistant, Gram-negative bacteria

Xellia Pharmaceuticals, a Norwegian specialist pharmaceutical company focused on the global anti-infective market, is developing new antibiotics against multi-drug resistant (MDR), Gram-negative bacteria.

The company is collaborating with SINTEF Materials and Chemistry (Trondheim) and the Statens Serum Institut (Copenhagen) in the four-year development project, which is supported by a US$3m grant from the Research Council of Norway (NFR). The project also includes contributions from laboratories across Europe.

Resistance to existing antibiotics has become a major healthcare issue worldwide. In the EU alone, infections due to serious hospital-based MDR infections have been reported to cost between €28,500 (in hospital units and ICUs) and €70,100 (in MDR ICUs) for each surviving patient.

Pan-drug resistant (PDR) and so-called extensively drug resistant (XDR) Gram-negative bacteria have recently started to appear, taking the treatment situation to a critical point. The lack of new antibiotics is significantly compromising the survival and recovery of patients with these infections. At present, only two antibiotic subclasses are still available to treat XDR infections, polymyxins and tigecycline.

Xellia has the experience and capability to develop new, polymyxin-like drugs with fewer side-effects

Aleksandar Danilovski, VP of R&D at Xellia, said: ‘As the world’s leading supplier of both polymyxin B and colistin, Xellia has the experience and capability to develop new, polymyxin-like drugs with fewer side-effects. These drugs have the potential to address the immediate global need for antibiotics to overcome MDR infections, in particular those caused by PDR and XDR Gram-negative bacteria.’

He added: ‘The SINTEF and Statens Serum Institut research groups are specialists in fermentation development and drug testing. Combined with the drug development expertise of the Xellia team, this collaboration represents a highly competent task force in the battle against bacterial infection.’

Carl-Åke Carlsson, CEO of Xellia, said: ‘I am convinced that with Xellia’s intellectual resources, and its decades of pharmaceutical developmental and manufacturing experience, we can make substantial progress in meeting this challenge. If successful, the results for patients of these infections and the potential market for these new drugs could be huge.

‘As these development activities progress, we would intend to seek a partnership with a larger pharma company to expedite the development and commercialisation of these drugs for the benefit of patients.’

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Xellia Pharmaceuticals (more information, website)