Xellia Pharmaceuticals, a fully integrated specialty pharmaceutical company focusing on the global anti-infective market, announced today that it is developing new antibiotics effective against multi-drug resistant (MDR), Gram-negative bacteria.
This four year development project at Xellia is a collaboration with SINTEF Materials and Chemistry (Trondheim) and the Statens Serum Institut (Copenhagen). The project is being supported by a $3 million grant from the Research Council of Norway (NFR). The project also includes contributions from laboratories across Europe.
Xellia is aiming to develop new antibiotics that target Gram-negative bacterial infections, caused by, for example Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, Acinetobacter and Enterobacter species. Severe sepsis and septic shock due to such infections take up to 135,000 lives each year in Europe and 215,000 in USA.
Resistance to existing antibiotics has become a major healthcare issue worldwide. In the EU alone, infections due to serious hospital-based MDR infections have been reported to cost between EUR 28,500 (in hospital units and ICUs) and EUR 70,100 (in MDR ICUs) per surviving patient.
Recently, pan-drug resistant (PDR) and even so-called extensively drug resistant (XDR) Gram-negative bacteria have started to appear, taking the treatment situation to a critical point. The lack of novel antibiotics is significantly compromising the survival and recovery of patients suffering from these infections. At present, only two antibiotic subclasses are still available to treat XDR infections, polymyxins and tigecycline.
Last-line polymyxin drugs such as polymyxin B and colistin have been used for 60-70 years without developing a significant resistance. However, these antibiotics are known to exhibit elevated nephrotoxicity (affecting kidney function) and are, therefore, not ideal for systemic treatment of XDR-infections.