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CARB-X funds Techulon to support the development of innovative nano therapeutics capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria by precisely targeting essential genes

CARB-X funds Techulon to support the development of innovative nano therapeutics capable of killing drug-resistant bacteria by precisely targeting essential genes

Techulon project is the 50th project funded by CARB-X since it was launched in 2016

(BOSTON, MA)  – CARB-X is awarding Techulon Inc., located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, VA, USA, up to $785,000 in non-dilutive funding to develop a new class of antimicrobial that would kill drug-resistant bacteria by targeting specific genes critical to the bacteria’s survival. The CARB-X award supports preclinical hit-to-lead development of Techulon’s drug candidates targeting Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two superbugs that have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘priority pathogens’ posing the greatest threat to global health and by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as ‘serious threats’ to human health.

The Techulon project is the 50th innovative antibacterial early development project funded by CARB-X, established in July 2016. To date, CARB-X has invested more than $150 million in non-dilutive funding to accelerate the development of antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other life-saving products to address drug-resistant bacteria, with additional funds committed if projects achieve certain milestones. The CARB-X portfolio has 31 active projects in five countries.

“CARB-X is fighting the spread of drug-resistant bacteria by supporting the development of innovative therapeutics and other products that target the most serious bacterial threats. We are making progress,” said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X, which is based at the Boston University School of Law. “The Techulon project is in the early stages of development but if successful and approved for use in patients, it could represent major improvements in the way deadly infections are treated.” CARB-X is a consortium led by Boston University and funded by a global partnership.

“Antibiotic resistance is a real and serious threat to national security and public health”, said Rick Bright, Ph.D., HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Director of BARDA. “CARB-X has generated valuable momentum in re-catalyzing the antibiotic pipeline. Reaching this milestone of supporting 50 innovative candidates in just three years is a testament to what can be achieved through public-private partnerships and to the power of diverse international coalitions working together to manage this urgent problem.”

“We have gained real and valuable momentum through CARB-X in stimulating the antimicrobial resistance development pipeline at a pivotal point in medical history,” said Rick Bright, Ph.D., HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. BARDA is one of CARB-X’s founding partners and also supports antibacterial projects through the advanced stages of development. One such project, in development by T2 Biosystems, recently graduated from the CARB-X portfolio and is advancing in development.

“Techulon is excited to partner with CARB-X to advance our novel Rapidly Adaptable Nano Therapeutic (RANT) platform therapeutics,” said Bud Thompson, CEO of Techulon. “With CARB-X’s support, we will be able to continue to develop therapeutics which we believe will be part of the solution to addressing antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria.”

Techulon is developing novel peptide-peptide nucleic acids (PPNAs) antimicrobial compounds using its RANT platform, which can reveal DNA sequences in genes that are essential for the survival of microbes. The drugs work by precisely targeting these genes in superbugs causing an infection, thereby killing them. The PPNAs are composed of cell-penetrating peptides (CPP) conjugated via linkers to a gene target-specific antisense peptide nucleic acid (PNA) sequence for improved delivery into the microbe cytoplasm, efficient binding to target mRNA, and inhibition of translation of the target gene.

Infections from drug-resistant A. baumannii and P. aeruginosa can be fatal and are particularly threatening for patients with weakened immune systems. There is an urgent need for new therapies to treat infections caused by microbes such as these that have developed resistance to current antibiotics, rendering these drugs ineffective.

Supporting antibacterial innovation

According to the WHO, an estimated 700,000 people die each year worldwide from bacterial infections. In the US, 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 partners have committed up to $500 million to invest in antibacterial R&D between 2016-2021. CARB-X’s 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. These funds are in addition to investments made by the companies themselves. CARB-X provides between 80 and 90 percent of project costs, depending on the phase of development.

CARB-X is led by Boston University. Funding for the Techulon project is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Wellcome Trust, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

This news release is supported by the Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by awards from Wellcome Trust, and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. 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.

CARB-X contact:
Jennifer Robinson carbxpr@bu.edu
+1 514 914 8974

Techulon contact:
Bud Thompson bud.thompson@techulon.com
+1 540 520 2540
 

About CARB-X
Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) is a global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating early development antibacterial R&D to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria. 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 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). A non-profit partnership, CARB-X is investing up to $500 million from 2016-2021 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines, and rapid diagnostics . CARB-X supports the world’s largest and most innovative pipeline of preclinical products against drug-resistant infections. CARB-X is headquartered at Boston University School of Law. https://carb-x.org/.  Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.

About Techulon
Techulon is located in the Corporate Research Center at Virginia Tech and was founded by advisory board members for the College of Science at Virginia Tech. Techulon developed its RANT discovery program in 2013 to develop lead candidates for pathogens of interest. The focus of development has been to target bacteria in the ESKAPE pathogen group. Current drug candidates targeting ESKAPE pathogens include drugs which target MRSA, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Other candidates have been developed which target Borrelia burgdorferi and Candida auris. Techulon’s RANT platform is capable of rapidly identifying lead drug candidates targeting specific pathogens of interest. The goal is to be part of the solution to successfully treating life threatening infections caused by AMR pathogens and to decrease morbidity caused by targeted pathogens. http://www.techulon.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, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s (ASPR) 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. Within ASPR, BARDA invests in the advanced research and development, acquisition, and manufacturing of medical countermeasures – vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, diagnostic tools, and non-pharmaceutical products needed to combat health security threats. Since 2007, 52 BARDA-supported products have achieved regulatory approval, licensure or clearance. Learn more about preparing for and responding to public health emergencies, from new infectious diseases to natural disasters and bioterrorism, by visiting the HHS public health emergency website, www.phe.gov. 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 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 jeremy22@bu.eduwww.bu.edu.