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Novel Drug Candidate Aims To Tackle Superbug Infections In Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Mucoviscidosis (accumulation of mucus in the respiratory tract), seen on a frontal x-ray of the chest. (Photo by: BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP VIA GETTY IMAGES

In a world where antibiotics are becoming increasingly unsuccessful at treating infections, those who suffer worst are often the sick and the young. Unfortunately, in the case of Cystic Fibrosis, patients often check off both these boxes. The French biopharmaceutical company Antabio is working to develop a way to help these vulnerable patients, and this month they received a $4.4 million dollar grant to help ensure they achieve their goal. 

Antabio was awarded up to $4.4 million in funding from CARB-X, the global non-profit partnership dedicated to tackling the global rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria, a press release on the news reported. The money will specifically be used to support the development of Antabio’s Pseudomonas Elastase Inhibitor (PEi) program, which is focused on a novel small molecule candidate that was found to be a potential adjunct treatment for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in Cystic Fibrosis patients. 

“This is an innovation and brand new approach,” explained Antabio CEO Marc Lemonnier. “Its actually a groundbreaking approach, it’s never been done before. I think that’s what CARB-X has recognized and that’s why they are funding.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a bacteria that causes infections, such as pneumonia in the lungs. Although Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections are treated with antibiotics, for people in hospitals the infections are becoming increasingly antibiotic-resistant.  In 2017, multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa caused an estimated 32,600 infections among hospitalized patients and 2,700 estimated deaths in the United States. This is a major problem, especially for those already sick, such as Cystic Fibrosis patients. 

What makes the Antabio’s molecule candidate so unique is that it’s not an antibiotic. Antibiotics typically work by killing bacteria, whereas this molecule aims to disable the bacteria, making it less able to attack and inflame the lungs. By using the molecule alongside the traditional antibiotic treatment, it also makes the bacteria less likely to become resistant to drug treatment. 

“Our molecule combined with current antibiotic treatment will enhance the treatment, and help antibiotics work better,” said Lemonnier. “The expectation is that the occurrence of severe acute infections will be less frequent and this will significantly enhance the treatment of those patients.”

The molecule would be administered alongside the antibiotic treatment in an inhaler form, and patients would likely not even realize their course of treatment has differed in any way. 

“The development of our compound was completely based on not bringing an additional burden to patients,” said Lemonnier. “We want to make patients’ lives as easy as possible.” 

Timelines for drug developments are always difficult to predict but Antabio expects the drug molecule to enter human Phase 1 trials in 2022. 

Written by: Dana Dovey Healthcare

Published on: Jan 17, 2020, 09:50 am


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