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Science news

AMR Centre Swedish deal targets ‘superbug’ time-bomb


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Alderley Park, England, and Stockholm, Sweden - Medivir AB (Nasdaq Stockholm: MVIR) and AMR Centre Ltd (AMRC) today announce signing of an agreement providing AMRC the exclusive worldwide rights to Medivir’s research stage metallo-β-lactamase inhibitor (MBLI) program.

This key research program is aimed at tackling the threat posed by NDM-1 and other metallo-β-lactamases, enzymes that make bacteria resistant to widely used beta-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin.  The AMR Centre, the leading UK organisation working to combat the global problem of drug resistance, will take forward this program.

Bacteria containing NDM-1 have already caused significant fatalities and the spread of this enzyme has the potential to greatly diminish the number of treatment options for organisms such as E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. First identified in 2008 in New Delhi, NDM-1 has since been detected in bacteria in Pakistan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Japan.

A licensing agreement will see AMRC progress the development of compounds deriving from Medivir’s metallo-β-lactamase inhibitor (MBLI) program. The goal is a treatment that could be given alongside existing antibiotics that would block the resistance mechanism that the NDM-1 bacteria have developed. It would take the form of a combination therapy containing the MBLI alongside an existing β-lactam antibiotic, with the MBLI inactivating the resistance mechanism thereby restoring and maintaining the antibiotic activity.

Under the terms of the agreement, AMRC, which operates from Alderley Park, Cheshire, UK, will be responsible for the future development of the MBLI program and will share with Medivir a proportion of commercialization revenue received from any future out-licensing, sale or other commercialization of licensed know-how or compounds. No further financial details were released.

AMRC’s Executive Director, Dr Peter Jackson said: “Medivir has done a lot of very good science and we are delighted to be able to take forward the MBLI program aiming to address important emerging resistance mechanisms and targeting drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens on the WHO’s critical priority list.

“There is an absolute need for international collaboration in science around the antibiotic resistance issue. Avoiding duplication of effort is one of the keys as it is still that case that there are far too few scientists, in the grand scheme of public health, working on what is acknowledged as a potentially devastating global problem. The role of the AMRC is to help support, nurture and leverage expertise in different locations – and in this case we think we can help progress important science.”

Christine Lind, CEO of Medivir, said: “As Medivir focuses its efforts on developing drugs for cancer, we are pleased that AMRC will continue the development of this important program bringing new antibacterial treatments to patients.”

Dr Chris Doherty, Managing Director of Alderley Park, said: “The AMRC is rapidly establishing itself as a key collaborator and researcher. This is the second international deal and we expect to see more. We are obviously delighted that the research will take place within our campus at Alderley Park – ARMC is a flagship presence in terms of antimicrobial research, and we have other businesses here working on the problem.”

Katie Droogan