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Precision Microbial Resistance Joint Venture Formed

MRSA bacteria

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, bacteria (

6 July 2022. Biotech, pharma, and diagnostics companies are forming a new business to design precision diagnostics and treatments for drug-resistant microbes. The new enterprise, called Aurobac Therapeutics SAS in Lyon, France, is a joint venture of Evotec SE in Hamburg, Boehringer Ingelheim also in Germany, and bioMérieux in Lyon, with the partners investing €40 million ($US 40.8 million).

Antimicrobial resistance or AMR is a continuing and growing threat to global health. The uncontrolled rise of bacteria and other pathogens resistant to today’s antibiotics is responsible for some 1.27 million deaths per year worldwide, according to data published earlier this year, a number expected to rise to 10 million by 2050. Without quick action, says the AMR Action Fund, these so-called superbugs could set back modern medicine to conditions of the 19th century, before development of penicillin, where routine surgical procedures and common diseases become life-threatening.

New treatments for AMR up to now are mainly broad-spectrum drugs, say the joint-venture partners, which can result in unfocused responses to drug-resistant infections. Aurobac Therapeutics plans to take a precision-medicine approach to AMR that connects specific treatments to diagnostic evidence. The goal, say the partners, is to combine rapid detection and characterization of the infection, with drugs that address the precise nature of the infection.

Develop companion diagnostics to therapies

bioMérieux, the diagnostics partner in Aurobac, says it devotes three-quarters of its R&D budget and 80 percent of its products to AMR. The company offers an infection testing system called BioFire that allows clinicians to run one test for syndromes displayed by patients, symptoms and signs indicating disease conditions. BioFire assays use multiple polymerase chain reaction or PCR tests that amplify and analyze genetic markers of infections, returning the precise molecular composition of the pathogens. As a result, says bioMérieux, clinicians only need a single test to diagnose the infection rather than an entire battery of tests.

“Our role within the joint venture is to develop and commercialize diagnostic tests,” says Alexandre Mérieux, bioMérieux CEO in a statement, “including companion diagnostics, which deliver rapid, reliable and actionable results.”

Evotec is a biotechnology company that discovers and develops new drugs and biologics for a wide range of diseases. The company often works with other companies and research labs to provide target and hit identification, validation, and development services. As reported by Science & Enterprise in March 2018, Evotec licensed 10 infectious disease R&D programs from drug maker Sanofi, and opened a new lab in Lyon, site of Aurobac Therapeutics, with the lab’s first project devoted to discovery of AMR treatments.

Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec, adds, “The grim prospect of a post-antibiotic era has many causes but only one solution: the development of new, targeted, and effective antimicrobial therapies.”

Global drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim is the lead investor in Aurobac Therapeutics, providing €30 million, with bioMérieux and Evotec each offering €5 million. Boehringer Ingelheim is one of 23 pharmaceutical companies forming the AMR Action Fund in July 2020, with an investment of €50 million. The company says its corporate venture fund is committed to investing in 12 companies developing AMR solutions.

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