CARB-X is funding Polyphor to develop a new antibiotic

Basel-based biopharmaceutical company Polyphor has been awarded up to US$18.44 Million from CARB-X to develop a new drug to treat life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infections.

This is the second antibiotic program under development by Polyphor to win funding and support from CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University dedicated to accelerate the development of new therapeutics, preventatives and diagnostics to address drug-resistant bacteria. The Polyphor program, a novel thanatin-derivative belonging to the new Outer Membrane Protein Targeting Antibiotic (OMPTA) class of antibiotics, aims to treat life-threatening infections caused by difficult-to-treat bacteria identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) as an urgent and top-priority health threat. 

Serious infections are a global health threat, due in part to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria for which we do not have therapies,” said Erin Duffy, R&D Chief of CARB-X. “Polyphor’s project enriches the pool of novel approaches to deliver a therapeutic that can treat infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens, for which only one new class since 1962 has been approved for use in patients. It is in the early stages of development, and if successful and approved, it could potentially change the way these life-threatening infections are treated and save lives.” 

Enterobacteriaceae are a large family of different types of bacteria that commonly cause infections, including urinary tract infections and pneumonia, in healthcare settings. Examples include Escherichia coli (E. coli), Klebsiella pneumoniae and others resistant to nearly all antibiotics.

The novel thanatin-derivative antibiotics discovered by Polyphor and the University of Zurich aim to break down the outer membrane of the bacteria, which serves as protective armor against the effects of antibiotics.  Specifically, the antibiotic works on a novel target, an essential transport mechanism used by Gram-negative bacteria called the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) transport protein A (LptA). This class of antibiotics shows potent and specific antimicrobial activity against Enterobacteriaceae, including extremely drug-resistant strains.

CARB-X is awarding up to US$2.62 million to Polyphor. Polyphor will be eligible for an additional $15.82 million in funding from CARB-X if project milestones are met, subject to available funds, for a total of $18.44 million.