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CARB-X Commits $48M for Antibiotic Resistance R&D

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae bacteria (

30 March 2017. A public-private partnership is spending $48 million in grants to biotechnology companies for research on treatments and diagnostics to counter antibiotic resistance, with half of that amount distributed immediately. The Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator, or CARB-X, announced its first portfolio grants for 11 enterprises in the U.S. and U.K.

CARB-X is an initiative of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, and the Wellcome Trust, a foundation based in London, that provide the funding or in-kind services. Partnering organizations include Boston University law school where CARB-X is headquartered, as well as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, California Life Sciences Institute, AMR Centre in the U.K., and RTI International.

CARB-X was created from initiatives in the U.S. and U.K. in 2015 and 2016 aimed to control the growing global problem of antibiotic resistance. The project plans to invest some $450 million over 5 years to advance 20 new antibacterial products into preclinical testing, and at least 2 new products into clinical trials. Private companies are then expected to finance further clinical testing. Wellcome Trust said today it anticipates contributing $155.5 million over this period.

A total of $48 million is allocated in the first set of grants, with half of the amount on initial awards and the remainder on progress payments as milestones are achieved. The grant recipients are:

Cidara Therapeutics in San Diego, for its immunotherapy discovery platform designed to create compounds that direct a patient’s immune cells to attack and eliminate bacterial, fungal, or viral pathogens. Cidara is receiving $3.9 initially, and eligible for another $3 million in milestone payments.

ContraFect Corp. in Yonkers, New York, for the company’s technology producing lysins, bacteriophage-derived enzymes shown in preclinical studies to act against antibiotic-resistant pathogens. ContraFect is getting $1.1 million at first, and eligible for $1 million later in milestone payments.

Entasis Therapeutics in Waltham, Massachusetts, for its work in developing oral treatments for multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacterial infections, including those caused by carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae, for which many patients now find current oral drugs ineffective. Entasis is receiving $2.1 million immediately, and will be eligible for up to $4.2 million in progress payments.

Forge Therapeutics in San Diego, for the company’s work in blocking metallic-based enzymes found only in gram-negative bacteria and are essential to bacterial growth. Forge is getting $4.8 million initially and is eligible for another $4 million later on.

Microbiotix Inc. in Worcester, Massachusetts for its technology targeting secretions from dangerous bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, that reverse the pathogen’s disruption of the host’s innate immune response to infection. Microbiotix is set to receive $1.6 million upfront, and is eligible for another $1.6 million in milestone payments.

Oppilotech Ltd. in London, for its computational network modeling technology to produce agents known as potentiators that make it possible to penetrate cell membranes, allowing the use of conventional antibacterial compounds against drug-resistant microbes. Oppilotech is getting $0.12 million upfront.

Proteus in Edinburgh, Scotland, for the company’s optical imaging technology for high-speed and accurate visualization of bacterial infections in the lungs, to diagnose infections in critical care units. Proteus is receiving $0.64 million at first and eligible for another $0.48 million in progress payments.

Redx Pharma, in Alderley Park, U.K., for its work with bacterial inhibitors against difficult-to-treat gram-negative pathogens, including drug-resistant strains, as shown in tests with lab animals. Redx is set to receive $1 million.

Spero Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the company’s combination drugs designed to disrupt the cell membranes of gram-negative bacteria, to treat dangerous infections such as enterobacteriaceae and acinetobacter baumannii. Spero is receiving $1.6 million initially, and eligible for up to $5.4 million later on.

Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals in Watertown, Massachusetts, for its chemistry technology to create new antibiotics for infections, including those active against gram-negative bacteria, such as enterobacteriaceae and acinetobacter baumannii. Tetraphase is expected to receive $4 million upfront.

Visterra Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the company’s work on antibody-drug conjugates designed as single-cure therapies for multi-drug resistant bacteria and viruses. Visterra is getting $3 million initially and eligible for up to $4.2 million in milestone payments.

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