The antibiotic is aimed at Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae
Phico Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing a technology for a new generation of antibiotics aimed at overcoming antibacterial resistance, has been awarded a £2.25m Translation Award by the Wellcome Trust.
The Cambridge, UK-based company will develop its SASPject PT4 antibiotic, aimed at Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, including multi-drug resistant strains.
The Translation Award will support product development and pre-clinical efficacy testing, together with the development of a scalable manufacturing process.
Phico Therapeutics says SASPject is a novel approach with the potential to provide a number of significant advantages over traditional antibiotics. These include a unique mode of action which makes it unlikely that the bacteria will be able to develop resistance to its antibacterial protein. It also has the ability to target any selected bacteria, including those that are multi-antibiotic resistant.
This award will enable us to advance PT4 towards clinical trials and to develop a scalable manufacturing process
K. pneumoniae and E. coli are examples of Enterobacteriaceae, a normal part of the human gut bacteria. However, in an infection, this group of bacteria can be particularly difficult to treat because they can have high levels of resistance to many antibiotics, including the so-called antibiotics of last resort, the carbapenems, giving rise to the name Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE. This superbug contributed to two deaths in a recent Los Angeles outbreak.
The Wellcome Trust Translation Awards aim to develop groundbreaking new technologies in the biomedical area, particularly in areas of high unmet medical need. Projects must have already demonstrated proof of principle, supported by experimental data.
Dr Heather Fairhead, Chief Executive of Phico Therapeutics, said: 'This Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust is an important validation of our SASPject technology, which we believe holds the potential to be a powerful new tool in the war against antimicrobial resistance.
'This award will enable us to advance PT4 towards clinical trials and to develop a scalable manufacturing process, and we look forward to beginning work on the project.'