‘Superbug’ drug discovery

US biopharmaceutical company licenses Monash University ‘superbug’ drug discovery

Monash University has granted an exclusive licence of its portfolio of proprietary synthetic polymyxin antibiotics to Qpex Biopharma, a US-based company developing new antibiotics to combat the growing threat of global antimicrobial resistance.

Professor Jian Li, Associate Professor Tony Velkov, Professor Roger Nation, Dr Kade Roberts and Professor Philip Thompson

The novel polymyxin antibiotics have been developed by researchers at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI), led by Professor Jian Li, Associate Professor Tony Velkov, Professor Roger Nation, Dr Kade Roberts and Professor Philip Thompson.

The team has identified a promising lead candidate, which Qpex intends to take into a Phase 1 clinical trial.

The development of this new polymyxin is designed to meet an increasingly urgent healthcare need. By 2050, antimicrobialresistant infections may kill 10 million people per year, and thus Gram-negative ‘superbugs’ are at the top of the list to counteract.

Due to their toxicity, no new polymyxins have been approved for use since 1950. Available polymyxin antibiotics are often the only option available to treat pathogens that are resistant to all other antibiotics, yet the adverse effects limit their clinical applications.

“The world desperately needs better polymyxins and our novel synthetic polymyxins show superior efficacy and safety over the existing polymyxin drugs in pre-clinical animal studies. We are thrilled with the partnership with Qpex which will now pursue the clinical development of these promising new polymyxin analogues,” said Professor Li, who heads the Monash University polymyxin drug development research