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

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

Polyphor’s new class of Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotics (OMPTA) would treat the deadliest drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens

(BOSTON: February 4, 2019) – CARB-X, a Boston University global partnership, is awarding Polyphor (SIX: POLN) of Allschwil, Switzerland, up to $2.6 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $3.0 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop a novel antibiotic with a novel mode of action to treat serious infections caused by Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens.

“The world urgently needs new classes of antibiotics, like those that Polyphor is developing, to treat life-threatening infections,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X and Boston University law professor. “Polyphor’s OMPTA project represents a promising new approach to treating infections caused by the deadliest drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X is providing funding as well as technical and business support through our expanding network of accelerators. 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 global fight against drug resistance.”

Giacomo Di Nepi, Chief Executive Officer of Polyphor, said: “We are delighted to have the support of CARB-X, which will enable us to accelerate and further advance our preclinical candidate targeting resistant Gram-negative bacteria. CARB-X supports the best science and most promising early development R&D projects in the world to prevent and treat life-threatening bacterial infections and we are honored to have been selected in a highly competitive evaluation process.”

Polyphor’s new class of outer-membrane protein targeting antibiotics displays potent activity against bacteria referred to as Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter species). Importantly, this new class is active against strains which have become resistant to most antibiotics including the last-resort antibiotic colistin.

CARB-X funding will help support preclinical development and potentially Phase 1 clinical trials.

CARB-X’s expanding portfolio

The Polyphor project brings to 11 the number of the new classes of antibiotics in the CARB-X portfolio. CARB-X is supporting 33 innovative projects world-wide and expects that number to increase significantly this year. Since it was established in 2016, CARB-X has announced awards exceeding $103 million, plus additional funds if project milestones are met, to accelerate the development of antibiotics, rapid diagnostics and other life-saving 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 40 projects.

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 (WHO), 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 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Europe, the number of deaths each year is estimated at 33,000.

Partnership to drive antibacterial innovation globally

CARB-X is a Boston University global partnership funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Wellcome Trust, the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund, and 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).

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 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.

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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 Polyphor
Polyphor is a clinical stage, Swiss biopharmaceutical company which has discovered and is developing the OMPTA (Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotics). The OMPTA are potentially the first new class of antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria to have reached phase III stage in the last 50 years. The company’s lead product, murepavadin, (POL7080) is in Phase III development against Pseudomonas aeruginosa – recognized as a critical priority 1 pathogen by WHO. Polyphor is also developing an immuno-oncology candidate, balixafortide (POL6326), which is in preparation for a pivotal trial program in combination with eribulin in patients with advanced breast cancer, and a pipeline of further preclinical antibiotics based on its OMPTA platform. Polyphor is based in Allschwil near Basel and is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (SIX: POLN). For more information, please visit

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 visit