Techulon Inc. was awarded $785,000 to develop an antimicrobial that would kill drug-resistant bacteria by targeting specific genes critical to the bacteria’s survival.
The funding was from Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) – a global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating antibacterial R&D to address the threat of drug-resistant bacteria.
The money will support the development of Techulon’s drug candidates that target Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two superbugs that have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘priority pathogens’ posing the greatest threat to global health. Infections from these superbugs can be fatal and are particularly threatening for patients with weakened immune systems.
There is an urgent need for new therapies to treat infections like these that have developed resistance to current antibiotics.
“CARB-X is fighting the spread of drug-resistant bacteria by supporting the development of innovative therapeutics and other products that target the most serious bacterial threats. We are making progress,” Kevin Outterson, executive director at CARB-X, said. “The Techulon project is in the early stages of development, but if successful and approved for use in patients, it could represent major improvements in the way deadly infections are treated.”
Techulon – located at the Corporate Research Center at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg — is developing novel peptide-peptide nucleic acids (PPNAs) antimicrobial compounds using its RANT platform. The platform can reveal DNA sequences in genes that are essential for the survival of microbes. The drugs they are developing precisely target these genes in superbugs causing an infection, thereby killing them.
“Techulon is excited to partner with CARB-X to advance our novel Rapidly Adaptable Nano Therapeutic (RANT) platform therapeutics,” Bud Thompson, CEO of Techulon, said. “With CARB-X’s support, we will be able to continue to develop therapeutics, which we believe will be part of the solution to addressing antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) bacteria.”
CARB-X is a consortium led by Boston University. It is funded by several organizations including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Wellcome Trust, a U.K.-based charity, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
“We have gained real and valuable momentum through CARB-X in stimulating the antimicrobial resistance development pipeline at a pivotal point in medical history,” Rick Bright, HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Director of BARDA, said.