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Major Breakthrough in the Fight against Antibiotic Resistance

Published: Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited, one of India’s largest privately held pharmaceuticals company and UK based antibiotics discovery major, Helperby Therapeutics have signed a joint agreement on Antibiotic Drug Resistance Research & Development.

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Described as the most important innovation in the discovery of new antibiotics since Alexander Fleming’s original breakthrough more than 80 years ago, this announcement is a major breakthrough in the fight against resistance with the discovery of patented ‘resistance breaker’ compounds.

These new compounds are called Antibiotic Resistance Breakers. When an Antibiotic Resistance Breaker is combined with an old obsolete antibiotic, it can rejuvenate it and make it active against highly resistant bacteria. Antibiotic Resistance Breakers can potentially rescue several different classes of antibiotics. Furthermore, this approach requires the development of fewer novel compounds, is less risky and less costly than the traditional “one antibiotic” route.

On this occasion, Cadila Pharmaceutical’s Chairman and Managing Director Dr. Rajiv I Modi said, “The Founder Chairman of our company, Shri IA Modi, believed in providing affordable medicines for the masses through innovative and cutting-edge research & development (R&D). This discovery will open new avenues against resistant organisms and is very timely in view of global concerns about rapidly growing bacterial resistance against current antibiotics. Cadila Pharmaceutical’s collaboration with Helperby can help the mankind win the battle against the microbes and hopefully save millions of lives in coming years.”

Helperby’s Chief Scientific Officer Professor Anthony Coates said, “The emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens has accelerated whilst the pipeline for new anti-microbial drugs has all but run dry – this exciting and timely partnership with Cadila Pharmaceuticals offers us all hope.”

Travelling with the UK’s Trade Delegation to India led by Prime Minister David Cameron, Helperby signed its first major licensing deal with Indian pharma giant Cadila Pharmaceuticals to take the compound through further clinical trials, approvals and into commercialisation. Helperby will supply Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd. with Antibiotic Resistance Breakers whilst Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd. will develop the combinations with old antibiotics. The deal value was undisclosed but could contribute to Helperby scaling up in the UK to a potential £500 million operation, creating employment for 500-1000 persons by 2019.

UK’s Prime Minister Cameron said, “The life sciences industry is the jewel in the crown for the UK economy, consistently growing and achieving new breakthroughs. “Today’s deal between Helperby and Cadila Pharmaceuticals on antibiotic resistance research is another great example of UK-India collaboration helping both our countries to succeed in the global race. And it’s not just a step forward for medical research it also has the potential to create up to 1,000 highly skilled jobs in the UK by 2019.”
The announcement comes as the World Health Organisation’s Director General Margaret Chan warns that a post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. She notes: “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

There has been a profound lack of appetite for antimicrobial drug development over the past two decades in favour of more lucrative areas such as orphans or long term condition therapeutics. As far back as 2006 the Antimicrobial Availability Task Force of the Infectious Diseases Society of America expressed concern at the decreasing investment in antimicrobial research and development and launched a Bad Bugs Need Drugs campaign. In spite of this the pipeline remains stagnant with no real rising stars likely to appear in the near future.
Helperby, a spin-out of the UK’s University of London St George’s, has been working for the past 12 years on ways to tackle antibiotic resistance and has discovered a new series of potent, fast-acting drugs which rescue old antibiotics. Instead of targeting multiplying bacteria, the research team focused on non-multiplying, dormant bacteria. Developing antibiotics that specifically target these root-like bacteria has never been done before – in fact conventional methods of screening have consistently missed these promising candidate drugs.

Cadila Pharmaceuticals will take the new discovery through phase III and into commercialisation. The company is now actively considering a presence in the UK with a corresponding programme for UK microbiologists as part of the collaboration. The licensing agreement will allow Cadila Pharmaceuticals to bring the first product to market in around 18months.

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