GlaxoSmithKline has announced that it has signed an agreement with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), to identify and develop a new class of antibacterials targeting both Gram negative biothreats and conventional Gram negative hospital pathogens.
The agreement awards GSK up to $41 million over a five-year period, while GSK will contribute substantially to this collaborative effort by providing supplemental staff and by covering other program costs.
The research will focus on such Gram negative pathogens as Pseudomonas, Klebsiella and Acinetobacter, which are increasingly resistant to all known classes of antibiotics. These bacteria can cause a significant health threat to patients, particularly those in intensive care units. Gram negative infection is associated with an increase in morbidity, and in severe cases can lead on to septic shock and an increase in mortality. Though there are antibiotics in development from established classes, there is only one novel class systemic agent in clinical trials to address this mounting problem.
"The Department of Defense is excited about the opportunity of teaming with GSK and leveraging their capabilities and resources to develop antibacterial compounds for Gram negative biothreat agents," said Lieutenant Colonel Calvin Carpenter at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. "This research is needed to identify and deliver antibacterials from entirely new classes to defend against potential biothreat outbreaks and hospital-acquired infections."
The challenge of developing new antibacterial treatments is compounded by the fact that Gram negative bacteria are difficult to attack because they have an outer membrane surrounding the bacterial cell wall that interferes with drug penetration. New treatments must not only be toxic to the pathogen, but must also overcome the barriers to entry into the cell.
"Through this innovative collaboration with DTRA, GSK will focus its experience and resource in drug discovery on new antibacterial solutions that address biothreat pathogens as well as conventional Gram negative infections acquired in the hospital," said Dr. David Payne, Group Director, Antibacterial Research, Infectious Diseases Center for Excellence in Drug Discovery (ID CEDD) at GSK.
With few new antibiotic classes being developed in the last 40 years and growing resistance of various types of bacteria to treatment, GSK is progressing a growing portfolio of antibiotic candidates. The ID CEDD, formed earlier this year, is exclusively dedicated to discovering and developing novel treatments for bacterial and other types of infections.
"GSK is committed to identifying and progressing novel antibacterials that address this rapidly emerging public health threat," said Dr. Patrick Vallance, Senior Vice President, GSK Drug Discovery. "This agreement with DTRA provides a substantial resource towards address the challenges of this area and will enable us to accelerate the delivery of new Gram negative antibacterials for patients."
In addition to this agreement, GSK previously announced further support for its Gram negative research program from the Wellcome Trust through their £91 million Seeding Drug Discovery initiative which aims to assist researchers and companies, small and large, to take forward early-stage drug discovery projects in small molecule therapeutics. It is intended that these projects will then be taken up for further research and development by industry.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense dedicated to leveraging the latest scientific resources, expertise and capabilities to ensure the United States remains ready and able to address present and future chemical and biological threats. For more information, visit www.dtra.mil.