Drilling deeper into its drug discovery platform, hybrid biotech-CRO Evotec has signed a deal with British charity Antibiotic Research UK to help older antibiotics become effective killers against a new threat of resistance bacteria.
The German company will work with ANTRUK to find new and innovative ways of treating patients with bacteria that have become resistant to current antibiotics.
While many in Big Pharma have moved away from antibiotic research to focus on oncology and rare diseases, there is a growing threat from antimicrobial resistance that is seeing new strains of bacteria that cannot be killed by the current, aging batch of antibiotics.
A recent report commissioned by the British government estimates that this could kill more people than cancer by the middle of the century, and are urging pharma and biotech to do more to combat this growing threat.
It is in this environment that ANTRUK was formed, back in 2014, by Professor Colin Garner--an academic formerly based at the University of York.
Its aim is to kick-start antibiotic drug development in the U.K.'s universities and SMEs, with a view to developing one new antibiotic therapy in the next 5-7 years--halving the time it would typically take.
Under its new collab with Evotec, their research will focus on the discovery of Antibiotic Resistance Breakers, or ARBs, to be used together with other antibiotics in the hope of reversing resistance and restoring the bacteria-killing ability of these older meds.
Financial details were not disclosed, although the charity has previously stated that it wants to raise around £30 million ($38.7 million) over the next 5 years.
Dr. Werner Lanthaler, CEO at Evotec, said: “The combination of Evotec's science and infrastructures, alongside charities and foundations like ANTRUK, allows highly capital-efficient drug discovery processes. This is especially important for addressing the dramatic threat of multi-drug resistant bacterial infections where time is of essence to come up with new treatments.”
Professor Garner, CEO at Antibiotic Research UK, added: "It is great to see our first research programme commencing so soon after the charity's formation in mid-2014, and we are grateful to our supporters who have funded this programme.
“Evotec's facilities and expertise make it an ideal partner for this first project and it is exciting to see some action finally being taken as no new classes of antibiotics, against Gram-negative bacteria, have been introduced for the past 30 years.
“... I am really looking forward to seeing the results of the research, as this programme could potentially find new ways of extending the life of our existing antibiotics at a fraction of the cost and time compared to conventional drug development programmes.”
Evotec has been busy in recent months, just last week signing a U.S. academic deal to gain access to its CRISPR tech, and in March it launched its first spinout in the form of the early-stage firm Topas Therapeutics, which focuses on multiple sclerosis.
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