CARB-X funds ContraFect to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat serious infections caused by Gram-negative ESKAPE superbugs

CARB-X funds ContraFect to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat serious infections caused by Gram-negative ESKAPE superbugs

ContraFect’s new class of phage-encoded lytic agents called ‘amurins’ aims to treat the deadliest drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens

(BOSTON: March 4, 2019) – CARB-X is awarding ContraFect Corporation (Nasdaq:CFRX) of Yonkers, New York, USA, up to $1.75 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $5.19 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop novel antibiotics to treat serious life-threatening infections caused by Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens. This is ContraFect’s second antibacterial project to earn CARB-X funding.

“ContraFect’s amurin project is an exciting new approach to treating infections caused by the deadliest drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria and, if approved by the FDA, would represent a new drug class,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X and Boston University law professor. “The projects in the Powered by CARB-X portfolio are in the early stages of development, but if successful, they offer tremendous hope in the fight against drug resistance. The world urgently needs new products to treat life-threatening infections caused by drug resistant superbugs.”

Cara Cassino, M.D., ContraFect’s Chief Medical Officer, remarked, “We are excited to unveil amurins, our proprietary new class of antimicrobials to tackle antibiotic resistance, one of the most important challenges facing medicine today. Emerging strains of pan- and extreme- drug resistant (PDR and XDR) Gram-negative bacteria are resistant to all but a few conventional antibiotic treatments of last resort. These infections have high mortality rates, are associated with substantial morbidity among survivors and require lengthy hospitalizations and significant societal and healthcare cost. Amurins are highly differentiated from conventional antibiotics through their novel mechanism of action and potent spectrum of activity against the most threatening Gram-negative pathogens. We look forward to advancing development of this promising new class of antimicrobial agents with the support of CARB-X.”

ContraFect’s new class of amurins are phage-encoded lytic agents which exhibit potent, broad spectrum activity against Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens (P. aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter cloacae, and Acinetobacter baumannii) as well as Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. Amurins also have shown ability to clear biofilms and act synergistically with a range of standard of care anti-Gram-negative antibiotics.

CARB-X is supporting the development of amurins for the treatment of acute exacerbations of cystic fibrosis caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens and potentially for the treatment hospital-acquired bacterial pneumonia, including ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia and associated bacteremia. The project is currently in the hit-to-lead development phase.

The first ContraFect project to be Powered by CARB-X was announced in April 2017 for the development of a lysin for the treatment of invasive infections caused by P. aeruginosa.

New antibiotics, rapid diagnostics, vaccines and other products are needed urgently to treat bacteria that are increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 700,000 people die each year worldwide from bacterial infections. In the United States, an estimated 23,000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacterial infections, according to the CDC. In Europe, the number of deaths each year is estimated at 33,000.

CARB-X’s expanding portfolio

With the latest ContraFect project, CARB-X is now supporting the development of 13 projects that represent new classes of antibiotics. The CARB-X portfolio has 35 innovative projects world-wide and that number is expected to increase significantly this year. Since it was established in 2016, CARB-X has announced awards exceeding $110.8 million, plus additional funds if project milestones are met, to accelerate the development of antibacterial products. These funds are in addition to investments made by the companies themselves. The CARB-X pipeline will continuously evolve, as projects progress and others fail for a variety of reasons. In total since it was established, CARB-X has announced awards for 42 projects.

Partnership to drive antibacterial innovation globally

CARB-X is investing up to $500 million in antibacterial R&D between 2016-2021. The goal is to support projects through the early phases of development through Phase 1, so that they will attract additional private or public support for further clinical development and approval for use in patients. The scope of CARB-X funding is restricted to projects that target drug-resistant bacteria highlighted on the CDC’s 2013 Antibiotic Resistant Threats list, or the Priority Bacterial Pathogens list published by the WHO in 2017 – with a priority on those pathogens deemed Serious or Urgent on the CDC list or Critical or High on the WHO list.

This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by an award from Wellcome Trust. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response, Wellcome Trust, or other CARB-X funders.

Media Contacts:

Jennifer Robinson
M: +1.514.914.8974

Michael Messinger
ContraFect Corporation
Tel: 914-207-2300

Lauren Stival
Stern Investor Relations
Tel: 212-362-1200

About CARB-X
CARB-X is a Boston University global partnership dedicated to accelerating early development antibacterial R&D to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X funding is provided by US Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (UK GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). A non-profit partnership, CARB-X is investing up to $500 million from 2016-2021 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics and devices. CARB-X supports the world’s largest and most innovative pipeline of preclinical products against drug-resistant infections. CARB-X focuses exclusively on high priority drug-resistant bacteria, especially Gram-negatives. CARB-X is based at Boston University School of Law. Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.

About ContraFect
ContraFect is a biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing therapeutic protein and antibody products for life-threatening, drug-resistant infectious diseases, particularly those treated in hospital settings. An estimated 700,000 deaths worldwide each year are attributed to antimicrobial-resistant infections. We intend to address life threatening infections using our therapeutic product candidates from our lysin and monoclonal antibody platforms to target conserved regions of either bacteria or viruses (regions that are not prone to mutation). Lysins are a new therapeutic class of bacteriophage-derived, recombinantly produced, antimicrobial proteins with a novel mechanism of action associated with the rapid killing of target bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant strains. ContraFect’s lead lysin candidate, exebacase (CF-301) is completing a Phase 2 clinical trial for the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus (Staph aureus) bacteremia, including endocarditis.

The US Department of Health and Human Services works to enhance and protect the health and well-being of all Americans, providing for effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health, and social services. Within HHS, ASPR’s mission is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. ASPR leads the nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies. BARDA provides a comprehensive, integrated, portfolio approach to the advanced research and development, innovation, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products for public health emergency threats. These threats include chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents, pandemic influenza, and emerging infectious diseases. NIH is the primary US federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing and treating these illnesses.

About Wellcome Trust
Wellcome exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. We’re a global charitable foundation, both politically and financially independent. We support scientists and researchers, take on big problems, fuel imaginations and spark debate. The Wellcome Trust is a charity registered in England and Wales, no. 210183. Its sole trustee is The Wellcome Trust Limited, a company registered in England and Wales, no. 2711000 (whose registered office is at 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK)

About the Global AMR Innovation Fund (GAMRIF)
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is the UK Government department which is responsible for helping people to live more independent, healthier lives for longer.

The partnership with CARB-X is part of DHSC’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF). GAMRIF was established to provide seed funding for innovative research and development, specifically in neglected and underinvested areas, in the field of AMR.  GAMRIF is a £50m UK Aid investment, which means all projects funded must support research primarily and directly for the benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The Fund takes a ‘One Health’ approach, seeking to invest in potential solutions to reduce the threat of AMR in humans, animals, fish and the environment. The Fund seeks to leverage additional global funding through interaction with international government bodies, public-private partnerships, product development partnerships, global funding mechanisms and global fora.

About Boston University 
Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 33,000 students, it is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. BU consists of 17 schools and colleges, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. In 2012, BU joined the Association of American Universities (AAU), a consortium of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada. For further information, please contact Jeremy Thompson at