– Defeats bacterial virulence without affecting the normal bacterial flora
We are approaching the end of the antibiotic era as more and more bacteria develop resistance for even the most powerful antibiotics. This is frequently claimed to be an even larger threat to man than the climate changes.
QureTech Bio AB develops drugs to treat bacterial infections by blocking the bacterial virulence. This is in contrast to the antibiotic treatment principle that has been used for the last 70 years.
In contrast to antibiotics, the virulence blockers developed by QTB does not kill the bacteria but affects their pathogenic life style so that they are unable to express their virulence properties. There are several advantages with this approach. First of all, it does not create a selection pressure on the pathogenic bacteria thereby avoiding resistance development. Secondly, the virulence blockers targets specific biological processes in the bacteria with high degree of selectivity. Patients treated with a virulence blocker will in this way be able to maintain the commensal flora that in it self is an important barrier to pathogens.
Antibiotic resistance is a serious and accelerating problem. Already today infections with multidrug resistant bacteria cause around 25,000 deaths annually in EU and US respectively, and the accompanying economic burden is immense. Without adequate tools to control bacterial infections, oncological treatments and advanced surgery that make patients highly susceptible to infections will become difficult or impossible to perform. There is an urgent need for new remedies against bacterial infections. This is manifested by regulatory bodies that offers fast track for novel treatments of bacterial infections, and in the US an extra five years market exclusivity is awarded, once an antibacterial drug is approved.
Chlamydia trachomatis is the most common sexually transmitted infection with about 100 million new cases per annum globally. In the US as much as 10% of the young adults are infected and these infections are associated with a large economic burden. The direct medical cost was estimated to $3 billion in the US (2009). Moreover, untreated Chlamydia is a main cause of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) that is a main case of infertility, accounting for health care costs of another $10 billion annually in the US. More powerful antibiotics will most certainly be required to meet the on-going spread of antibiotic resistant Chlamydia that was reported for 8% of the cases 2013.
QureTech Bio develops a novel class of antibacterial agents, virulence blockers, that block the bacteria’s ability to cause disease. These small molecule drugs selectively disarm the pathogenic properties of the bacteria, and are expected to replace, or for some indications to be used in combination, with antibiotics as front line drugs.
Our approach is to replace the use of standard antibiotics with a virulence blocker as the standard care for sexually transmitted Chlamydia. Based on our strong chemical platform we have developed 2-pyridone amides that inhibit Chlamydia virulence at nono molar levels byts mot concentration while they show very limited effect, if any at all, on other pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria tested. No effect of the compounds has been observed on eukaryotic cell lines used in the screening model. This demonstrates the high selectivity and indicates that the compounds are not cell toxic in general. The mechanism of action involves inhibition of the bacteria’s ability to acquire glucose from the host cell, which results in non infectious progeny and that disables the virulence of the bacteria. Proof of Concept studies in an animal disease model are expected to verify the treatment concept by Q3 2015.
• QureTech Bio’s new class of compounds – virulence blockers, stop the infection by specifically blocking the pathogenic properties of Chlamydia, while final clearance is handled by the immune system.
• QureTech Bio’s compounds target pathogenic processes, rather than bacterial survival, thus reducing the risk of promoting drug resistance development.
• Virulence blockers are selective for Chlamydia and have no effect on the normal bacterial flora, that in it self serve as a very good barrier against pathogens in our environment.
• Virulence blockers are potential future front line treatment of Chlamydia, but without the problem of drug resistance development, that limit the market value of new antibiotics.
The compounds are expected to be effective against Chlamydia strains that are resistant to the antibiotics used today.
The concept of virulence blockage can be applied to a number of other pathogens besides Chlamydia. QTB have virulence blockage programs for Uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC), Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Listeria monocytogenes that will be addressed and validated in vivo in the near future.
QureTech Bio has full ownership of three recent patent applications covering the Chlamydia indication. Patents have also been filed for new treatments of MRSA, urinary tract infections and tuberculosis.
QureTech Bio is supported by Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI), and has access to UBI’s extended network. The company is, from January 2015, established at the AstraZeneca BioVentureHub in Mölndal.
Initial Proof-of-Concept animal studies with a positive outcome have been carried out for Chlamydia. Complete studies by Q3-2015 will indicate what remains to be achieved for a CD nomination. The lead series is based on a well established chemical platform that enables a straightforward exploration of the drugable space and scale up.
Partnership and collaboration sought
The company seeks further funding or a development partner to progress the Chlamydia project through final optimization and into CD-nomination and clinical development. QureTech Bio also seeks funding and partnership to progress our projects directed against MRSA, UPEC infections and tuberculosis to in vivo validation.
The QureTech Bio Team
CEO Fritiof Pontén PhD, joined QTB in 2014 after 17 years at AstraZeneca in Mölndal, Sweden, where he during 10 years was Team Leader and responsible for scale up of drug candidates.
Chairman of the board Sven Bergström, Prof. in Microbiology at Umeå University, Sweden and co-founder of QTB. Sven is co-inventor of a Lyme borrelia vaccine, during his time at Symbicom AB.
CSO Scott Hultgren, Prof. in Microbiology at Washington University, St Louis, USA and co-founder of QTB. Scott is a member of the National Academy of Science, NAS, in the US.
Chief Chemist Fredrik Almqvist, Prof. in Organic Chemistry at Umeå University, Sweden and co-founder of QTB. Fredrik received the prestigious Göran Gustafsson award 2013.
QureTech Bio AB
QureTech Bio AB is a drug development company founded in 2010 to commercialise world-leading research from groups based at Umeå University, Sweden, and Washington University, St Louis, USA. The company’s portfolio comprise a new class of anti-infective agents that have the unique ability to prevent the disease-causing properties of certain multi-resistant bacteria without disrupting the normal bacterial flora. Thereby the risk for resistance development is significantly reduced.
Contact: Fritiof Pontén, CEO
Phone: +46 708 199379