Discovery of breakthrough antibiotic compounds

27 Sep 2016

Redx Pharma Plc announces the discovery of a series of compounds that have the potential to create the first novel class of broad-spectrum antibiotics in 30 years.

As previously announced, Redx scientists have identified novel bacterial topoisomerase inhibitors that work as antibiotics against drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria. In vivo testing has now confirmed that Redx has discovered a series of compounds that are highly effective against drug resistant strains of Gram-negative bacteria. This could have important implications for drug resistant infections such as E. coli and Pseudomonas, which are responsible for critical illnesses such as pneumonia, blood poisoning, and urinary tract and abdominal infections.

In the pre-clinical study, Redx achieved a significant decrease in bacterial infection levels against a multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacterial strain when compared with tigecycline, a current drug-of-last-resort used in treating antibiotic resistant bacteria. The Board believes that Redx’s compounds could therefore result in the development of a first-in-class treatment in an urgent area of high unmet medical need. Redx will be progressing these compounds with the objective of selecting an optimal lead compound.

Drug-resistant infections are already responsible for more than half a million deaths globally each year and this number is expected to increase. Of these drug-resistant infections, those caused by Gram-negative bacteria are even more difficult to treat than those caused by Gram-positive bacteria.

This is because Gram-negative bacteria have an additional outer cell membrane that is not easily penetrated by drugs and antibiotics, as well as the ability to expel drugs that do manage to cross the cell membrane. This poses a huge challenge for healthcare providers as Gram-negative bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to most available antibiotics.

Without the development of new antibiotics that kill drug-resistant bacteria, resistant infections will result in approximately 10 million extra deaths per year and cost the global economy up to US$100 trillion by 2050, according to recent findings from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a UK Government initiative.

Neil Murray, CEO of Redx, commented: We are very pleased to announce a significant development in our efforts to identify a new class of antibiotics. In vivo testing has now confirmed that we have discovered a series of compounds that are highly effective against drug-resistant strains of Gram-negative bacteria. This could have important implications for some of the most difficult to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria such as E. coli and Pseudomonas.

In 2014 there were over 750,000 cases of hospital-acquired pneumonia in the US and Europe. These infections are the primary cause of death in intensive care units, with mortality rates amongst ventilated patients reaching 50%. Developing a truly broad-spectrum antibiotic that can treat infections caused by both Gram- negative, as well as Gram-positive bacteria, would therefore be a major breakthrough in the battle to combat life threatening diseases worldwide.