Procarta’s new class of antibiotics targets ESKAPE superbugs
(BOSTON: September 17, 2019) – CARB-X is awarding Procarta Biosystems, a UK-based biotech company, up to US$2.2 million in non-dilutive funding with the possibility of $7.0 million more if certain project milestones are met, to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens. The new antibiotics are based on Procarta’s oligonucleotide antimicrobial platform. While still in preclinical development, if eventually approved for use in patients, Procarta’s PRO-202 antibiotics could be used to treat serious infections associated with complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI) and complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI).
“CARB-X selects innovative projects that target the most serious drug-resistant bacteria and that could, if successful, be a leap forward in the fight against deadly drug-resistant superbugs,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X, which is based at the Boston University School of Law. “We are making steady progress in supporting antibacterial innovation, but we know that much more is needed. The Procarta project is the type of cutting-edge innovation that can make headway against the global threat of drug-resistant bacteria.” CARB-X is a consortium led by Boston University and funded by a global partnership.
“This award from CARB-X recognises the value of the novel modalities in our pipeline and their potential to precipitate a paradigm shift in antimicrobial treatments,” said Dr. Andrew Lightfoot, PhD, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Procarta. “We are delighted to have support from CARB-X and the recognition of the importance of developing new antibiotics to combat antimicrobial resistance. This award from CARB-X follows closely on a €1.5m investment from the Novo Holdings REPAIR Impact Fund. Together, these new funds will be used to progress our lead asset, PRO-202 and to develop our proprietary drug discovery platform to build a pipeline of antimicrobial agents to cover the ESKAPE pathogens.”
Procarta’s oligonucleotide antimicrobial platform represents a novel nanoparticle approach targeting bacterial transcription factors, which are essential to the bacteria’s ability to thrive and spread infection. this proprietary nanoparticle delivery system, transcription factor decoys, which are short fragments of DNA, are delivered directly to bacterial cells, killing them by blocking their gene expression.
Gram-negative ESKAPE pathogens (Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species) are among the greatest drug-resistant threats world-wide and are often associated with complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI) and complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI), which can be fatal.
Partnership driving antibacterial innovation
CARB-X is led by Boston University and funding is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services , the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Part of CARB-X’s award for Procarta will come from funds provided by the UK Government’s GAMRIF, an Official Development Assistance (ODA) fund which allocates support for projects that promote the welfare and economic development of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The PRO-202 project qualifies for the GAMRIF program due to its predicted efficacy against Salmonella spp., Shigella spp. and Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) bacterial strains.
These bacteria are the leading causes of typhoid and diarrheal disease in the developing world and have a significant social and economic impact in LMICs. Severity and spread of resistance are significantly higher in countries with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. ETEC and Shigella spp represent two of the top four pathogens causing moderate-to-severe diarrhoea among children under five years old in Africa and South Asia. Some 21.5 million people contract typhoid annually in LMICs and there is a great unmet need for effective antimicrobial treatment.
To maximize access, Procarta is also exploring oral dosing of the PRO-202. This is valuable in LMICs where IV treatment may be difficult or costly.
Driving innovation to address the growing global superbug crisis
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. In Europe, the number of deaths yearly is estimated at 33,000.
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 CARB-X portfolio, the world’s largest antibacterial development portfolio with 31 projects in five countries, is expected to increase significantly this year. Since its inception in 2016, CARB-X has announced 48 awards exceeding $139.4 million, with the potential of 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.
This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by awards from Wellcome Trust, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the UK Government’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), through its Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, or other CARB-X funders.
Dr Andrew Lightfoot, Chief Executive Officer
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Richard Anderson / Juliette Craggs
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CARB-X is dedicated to accelerating early stage antibacterial R&D to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X is investing up to $500 million between 2016 and 2021 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics, and devices. In its first two years, CARB-X has built 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 a consortium led by Boston University and funded by a global partnership. CARB-X is funded by the US Department of Health & Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally, the UK government’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (GAMRIF), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with in-kind support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). CARB-X is based at Boston University in the School of Law. Other partners include RTI International, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, MassBio, and the California Life Sciences Institute (CLSI). carb-x.org. Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.
About Procarta Biosystems
Procarta Biosystems is a UK based biotech company that has discovered a new type of antimicrobial that kills bacteria, including multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative strains, by blocking their gene expression through a novel mechanism. The Company is developing a pipeline of these antibacterial agents discovered using its proprietary Oligonucleotide Antimicrobial Discovery platform. The lead asset, PRO-202, targeting CRE bacteria, is in preclinical development to treat complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI) and complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI).
Infections caused by MDR bacteria are correlated with increased deaths, prolonged stay in hospital and pose a major threat to global public health. Procarta aims to revolutionise the treatment of serious and life-threatening infection through disruptive innovation. Our goal is to radically improve patient well-being and aid in the global fight against AMR. Further information can be found at www.Procartabio.com.
About BARDA and NIAID
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)
Education and research are the foundations for our future. The promotion of education, science and research by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) represents an important contribution to securing Germany’s prosperity. Education and research are a Federal Government policy priority, which is reflected in the development of the funding it is making available to these fields.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. www.bu.edu.