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Debiopharm Progresses in Their Stand Against Drug-Resistant N. gonorrhoeae

Debiopharm, a Swiss biopharmaceutical company, announced today it has been awarded 2nd phase funding from the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) to continue the development of its antibiotic program Debio 1453, leading to a novel FabI inhibitor drug candidate specifically targeting Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

This 9-month extension for up to $1.4 million follows the initial 15-month phase for which up to $2.6 million was awarded in July of 2017, having been successfully completed earlier this year with all objectives met according to plan. The achievement of the targeted milestones during the first phase laid the basis for the CARB-X’s decision to fund the second phase of the research program.  

The Debio 1453 development program concerns a new antibiotic class that targets FabI, an enzyme essential to the growth of certain pathogens such as N. gonorrhoeae. Due to widespread antimicrobial resistance, N. gonorrhoeae creates a serious public health issue, ranking as high priority pathogen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and as an urgent threat by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1,2  The ongoing research focus of Debiopharm is to optimize lead molecules in order to select a drug candidate which meets the criteria of a Target Product Profile designed to best address the medical need. At the end of the 2nd phase, Debiopharm will select the most suitable compound to enter into clinical trials in uncomplicated gonorrhea caused by drug resistant N. gonorrhoeae.   

We are delighted and grateful to have been awarded this extended grant from CARB-X,” expressed Thierry Mauvernay, President of Debiopharm. “This continuation of research funding speaks to our antibiotic program’s promising capacity to make a difference in the fight against drug-resistant N. gonorrhoeae.

N. gonorrhoeae has an expanding history of microbial drug resistance, making previously effective treatments obsolete.3 The CDC reports that N. gonorrhoeae has acquired resistance to practically all classes of antibiotics making it a major global health concern.2 Bacterium-induced/driven Gonorrhea is the second most frequently reported sexually transmitted infection in the world, with an estimated 78 million people infected yearly.3 If left untreated, the infection can potentially lead to other serious conditions including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.3

“As a growing variety of super-bugs are showing resistance to existing antibiotics, the time to act is now,” says Terry Finn, Discovery Project Leader at Debiopharm. “This CARB-X award is a great recognition of the progress made in the first phase. It is critical for us to be prepared to avoid a future epidemic of patients with highly resistant N. gonorrhoeae for which there is currently no satisfactory treatment.”

The research is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number IDSEP160030 from ASPR/BARDA and by awards from Wellcome Trust, and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

About Debiopharm
Debiopharm aims to develop innovative therapies that target high unmet medical needs in oncology and bacterial infections. Bridging the gap between disruptive discovery products and real-world patient reach, we identify high-potential compounds for in-licensing, clinically demonstrate their safety and efficacy and then select large pharmaceutical commercialization partners to maximize patient access globally.

References: 

1. Available at https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/246114/9789241549691-eng.pdf

2. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/arg/default.htm  

3. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/07-07-2017-antibiotic-resistant-gonorrhoea-on-the-rise-new-drugs-needed 

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