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Effecting New Antibiotics, Part II: Microbial Genomics

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

The emerging science of microbial genomics is propelling an array of corporate efforts to develop novel antibiotics effective against drug-resistant organisms. Firms compiling genomic databases have been the first to profit, but competition is dropping the price of access.

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Novel Anti-Infectives

The introduction of new anti-infective drugs has not kept pace with the ability of bacteria to resist and render ineffective just about all antibiotics developed since the late 1920's. Influenza, hepatitis, pneumonia, meningitis, AIDS, tuberculosis and plenty of other infections are killing people, and not just in third world countries. In the US, infection is the third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. Since the mid-90's, the seriousness of the bacterial drug resistance problem has caused pharmaceutical companies to redouble their R&D efforts. And the problem has spawned a new industry of start-ups as well. Elitra Pharmaceuticals and Arrow Therapeutics hope to add to the anti-infective armamentarium with drugs that attack targets necessary for bacterial growth and survival. EluSys Therapeutics has an immunological approach, taking advantage of bispecific antibodies to clear toxins and pathogens from the bloodstream. Paratek Pharmaceuticals has taken a different approach. It's attacking the mechanism of resistance directly.

Super-Specialist CROs: Commercializing Pharma R&D Expertise

Outsourcing is not just for mundane pharma services anymore. Increasingly, drugmakers are contracting for specialized R&D assistance they expect to provide strategic as well as tactical advantages.

Spero Therapeutics: Remodeling Antibiotics

Like other companies investigating entirely new ways of treating bacterial infections, biotech start-up Spero is increasingly aware that novel antibiotics may need to travel new clinical and regulatory pathways to market.


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