This article was originally published in Start Up
One of the key ways pathogens survive in patients receiving drug therapy for infection is by physically ridding their cells of the chemicals through molecular mechanisms known as efflux pumps. Given this role, biopharma researchers have been investigating compounds meant to act as efflux pump inhibitors and so increase the efficacy of existing antibacterial and other drugs. Count DesignMedix LLC. in that group. The start-up thinks its approach will eventually give rise to drugs that reverse resistance to fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro, but the company is first working on a potential anti-malarial compound.
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MGB Biopharma Ltd. believes it may be able to create compounds that directly kill bacteria before they ever have a chance to mutate. Its plan is to develop chemicals that bind to bacterial DNA and stop transcription of key genes. Indeed, the fi rst three letters of the company’s name stand for minor groove binders, because this is the class of drug that management aspires to develop as antibacterials.
Kenta Biotech Ltd., is betting that fully human monoclonal antibodies will become valuable treatments for hospitalized patients battling serious bacterial infections. Some strong clinical data is giving Kenta confidence. It recently reported positive results from a Phase IIa clinical trial of critically ill patients with hospital-acquired and ventilator-acquired pneumonia caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa. All those who completed the three-infusion course of Kenta’s lead candidate survived and fully cleared their pneumonia. No negative systemic or infusion-site responses were reported.
VCs see rich exit opportunities, especially for start-ups with multiple products in their pipelines. In this issue we profile four emerging antibiotic drug developers: Cempra Pharmaceuticals, DesignMedix, Kenta Biotech and MGB Biopharma.