CARB-X is funding Swiss pharma company BioVersys to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat infections caused by multidrug-resistant ESKAPE pathogens

CARB-X is funding Swiss pharma company BioVersys to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat infections caused by multidrug-resistant ESKAPE pathogens

BioVersys’ ground-breaking pyrrolocytosines target antibiotic-resistant bacteria that cause severe and often deadly infections such as pneumonia and bloodstream infections

(BOSTON: June 1, 2021) – CARB-X is awarding BioVersys, a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, up to US$4.35 million in non-dilutive funding, to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat life-threatening infections caused by ESKAPE pathogens, bacteria that have developed resistance to most antibiotics available today. BioVersys could receive up to $10.98 million in additional funds from CARB-X if the project achieves certain milestones, subject to available funds.

ESKAPE is an acronym for some of the world’s most dangerous bacterial pathogens. These pathogens (Enterococcus faeciumStaphylococcus aureusKlebsiella pneumoniaeAcinetobacter baumanniiPseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacter species) are common causes of death and of life-threatening infections, especially among immune-compromised patients, patients on ventilators in hospital and health-care settings, and infants and young children in low- and middle-income countries.

“This funding from CARB-X aims to speed the development of an exciting new class of antibiotics to treat patients with life-threatening infections and to enhance global health security,” said Erin Duffy, R&D Chief of CARB-X, a non-profit global partnership led by Boston University and dedicated to supporting the development of innovative therapeutics, preventatives and diagnostics to address antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. “There has been a dire shortage of antibacterial innovation over the past half century and it is vital to accelerate the development of new approaches to address the spread of drug resistance.”

BioVersys’ pyrrolocytosines (BV300) represent a novel class of small molecules that target the ribosome, a validated antibacterial target and important part of the bacteria’s defense mechanism, but on a yet unexploited binding site. In preclinical testing, these molecules exhibit a robust coverage of all relevant Gram-negative bacterial pathogens, as well as other bacteria on the priority and urgent-threat lists of pathogens published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CARB-X funding will help support BioVersys’ Lead Optimization program to develop this compound class for difficult-to-treat severe infections, including pneumonia.

Dr. Sergio Lociuro, CSO of BioVersys: “We are pleased to receive this award from CARB-X and continue the discovery and development of new pyrrolocytosine antibiotics. Novel classes of broad-spectrum antibiotics with demonstrated in vitro and in vivo activity against all ESKAPE clinical isolates are like rare gems. We are excited to tackle the challenges of developing this totally new chemical class, potentially providing the first truly broadly active new class of antibiotics since decades.”

Dr. Marc Gitzinger, CEO and founder of BioVersys

Dr. Marc Gitzinger, CEO and founder of BioVersys: “We are grateful to CARB-X for their continued trust in the BioVersys team to develop innovation in the field of AMR and expand our already successful collaboration. The CARB-X award for BV300 is the second project funded by CARB-X that is being developed at BioVersys. This is a further validation of our high-quality science, strong team and commitment to developing novel AMR therapies for patients with unmet medical needs.”

BioVersys acquired the pyrrolocytosine molecules from Melinta Therapeutics, which had received funding from CARB-X in 2018 to support the project. BV300 is the second BioVersys project funded by CARB-X; the first award was for the development of new drugs to disarm Staphylococcus aureus bacteria of virulence factors that can cause serious skin infections and can spread to muscles, lungs and other body parts. The molecules from the BV200 project are being developed as a stand-alone therapy and for use
in combination with existing antibiotics.

Supporting global innovation to address antibiotic resistance

The CARB-X portfolio is the world’s largest and most diverse antibacterial R&D portfolio with 61 active projects focused exclusively on drug-resistant bacteria, including 20 projects focused on new classes of antibiotics. CARB-X is investing up to $480 million in non-dilutive funding between 2016-2022 to support the early development of new antibiotics, vaccines, rapid diagnostics and other life-saving products. The goal is to support projects through the early phases of development so that they will attract additional private or public support for further clinical development and regulatory approval for use in patients.

Since its launch in 2016, CARB-X has announced 91 awards worth more than $342 million, with the potential of additional funds if project milestones are met. These funds are in addition to investments made by the companies themselves.

An estimated 700,000 people die each year from antibiotic-resistance bacterial infections. CARB-X funds only projects that target drug-resistant bacteria highlighted on the CDC Antibiotic Resistant Threats list, or the Priority Bacterial Pathogens list published by the WHO, with a priority on those pathogens deemed Serious or Urgent on the CDC list or Critical or High on the WHO list.

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


Jennifer Robinson

Alina Lundin
+41 61 633 22 50; 

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 Administration for Strategic 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).  CARB-X is investing up to $480 million from 2016-2022 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.  Follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.

About BioVersys
BioVersys AG is a privately-owned clinical stage Swiss pharmaceutical company focusing on research and development of small molecules acting on novel bacterial targets with applications in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and targeted microbiome modulation. With the company’s award-winning TRIC technology we can overcome resistance mechanisms, block virulence production and directly affect the pathogenesis of harmful bacteria, towards the identification of new treatment options in the antimicrobial and microbiome fields. By this means, BioVersys addresses the high unmet medical need for new treatments against life-threatening resistant bacterial infections and bacteria-exacerbated chronic inflammatory microbiome disorders. Our most advanced research and development programmes address nosocomial infections of Acinetobacter baumannii (BV100, Phase 1), and tuberculosis (BVL-GSK098, Phase 1) in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and a consortium of the University of Lille. BioVersys is located in the Technologiepark in the thriving biotech hub of Basel.

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 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