HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, will provide up to $20.7 million over 2 years to VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals as part of a cost-sharing contract to develop an antibiotic to combat drug-resistant infections, the pharmaceutical company announced.
“VenatoRx’s clinical-stage candidate is designed to address the serious unmet medical need for a safe and effective therapy for treatment of diseases due to multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacteria,” Tim Henkel, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at VenatoRx, told Infectious Disease News. “It is imperative that development of new antibacterial products that address multidrug-resistant organisms occurs prior to the tipping point marked by rapid spread of these infections on a global basis.”
VenatoRx will collaborate with HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) as well as the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to expand its VNRX-5133 compound, which shows potential as a treatment for gram-negative drug-resistant infections such as complicated UTIs, hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia, as well as the pathogens that cause melioidosis and glanders, according to a news release.
ASPR and VenatoRx will fund the studies necessary to bring the antibiotic to market, and the DTRA will provide $10 million for the nonclinical, biodefense aspects of the contract, according to the release. Priority goals of the DOD’s portion of the contract include the execution of nonclinical efficacy and potency studies of VNRX-5133’s effect on biothreat pathogens, particularly the melioidosis-causing bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei.
“Antibiotics serve as direct treatments or preventive agents for infections caused by bacterial bioterror agents,” Christopher Houchens, PhD, director of the chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear medical countermeasures branch at BARDA, told Infectious Disease News. “Given that antibiotic resistance could evolve naturally or be bioengineered purposefully into biothreat agents, new antibiotics designed to overcome antibiotic resistance are needed to ensure that the nation has viable treatment options to save lives.” – by Eamon Dreisbach
References: CDC. Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance (AR/AMR): Biggest Threats and Data. https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest_threats.html#cre. Accessed July 24, 2019.
Disclosures: Henkel is the chief medical officer at VenatoRx. Houchens reports no relevant financial disclosures.