Original source: Diario Médico. Cristina G. Real. Madrid. 11/01/2016
The spanish Company is developing specific antibacterials against pathogens. Their “Pas Nas” Platform allow them to reach their first pre-clinical candidate for A. baumanii
It has been more than 50 years since the discovery of the last first-in-class antibiotic -omitting two exceptions with a rather limited application -, while the rise of multiresistant bacteria strains has become an inherent problem in the treatment of infective diseases, especially in the clinical field. Concerns regarding such problem are on the rise as the WHO claimed that the fight against those organisms to be of the utmost importance and one of the main challenges for the 21th century healthcare; such infections are the cause of 700 to 800.000 deaths per year worldwide. Paradoxically, the pharmaceutical industry seems to have given up on such a quest and there are almost no new antibiotics on development right now. Up to certain extent, this situation arises from the complexity of optimizing or finding new wide-spectrum compounds, the usual development strategy until now and one of the sources of resistance that generates the actual therapeutic problem.
One possible approach is to treat infection diseases following similar strategies as the ones used to treat cancer: “personalized medicine or high-accuracy treatments”. In other words, the development of “specific antibacterians targeting the pathogens with new mechanisms of action exclusively attacking the bacteria causing the infection with a minimum impact on the internal flora of the infected patient”. Domingo Gargallo, co-founder and scientific responsible for ABAC Therapeutics, explain to DM that the young company emerging from Ferrer in 2013 is focused precisely on the strategy starting from their platform PasNas (Pathogen Specific Narrow Spectrum), which is used to identify unique properties of specific pathogens in antibacterials.
“Regulatory agencies are recognizing a shift in the paradigm of new antibiotics and are applying the fast track regulatory procedure for their evaluation”
This tool, developed by ABAC founders, uses different algorithms to test compound libraries against every bacterial strain and uses predictive features of preclinical models to maximize the likelihood of success for the hits found in the screening phase. The “PasNAs” platform has been already validated and reduces by 25 the number of assay molecules and the time needed in the preclinical stage. Important results had been already reported: after screening 30000 compounds, PasNas found one potential antibacterial with specificity against Acinetobacter baumanii, one of the four “killers” “entre” gram-negative bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli are the other members of family and all of them are taken into account during the PasNas screening.
The first pre-clinical candidate of the company, Ab877, is on it’s way of being patented and has already started the first clinical phases. “The objective is to reach phase I with the different compounds we found – A proof of concept in antibacterial field because of huge predictive value of animal models – and at this point license them or sell them to other companies able to finish their development and put them on the market. We are in negotiations with some of the top-ten pharma companies” says Gargallo.
ABAC is focused on the development of first-in-class potential compounds with new mechanisms of action, with intravenous administration and indicated to infections with high mortality rates. In that way, it maximizes the potential turn-over of the investment as the compounds are meant to treat severe infections, being used exclusively in hospitals. Those antibiotics will potentially save money to the administration as it will reduce the number of days a patient has to stay on the hospital and it will save its life. “Their price won’t be as cheaper as actual antibacterials because from a social-economical point of view they will make a change in the paradigm of infection treatments” says, and “the regulatory agencies know that and they are doing their best to encourage the development of new antibacterials. As a matter of fact, they are already applying the regulatory accelerated process (fast-track) in their evaluation”.
Dr. Gargallo lastly exposed ‘At the current stage of the ABAC project, we are on the verge of closing two partnerships with two important Indian companies – chemical and biological related respectively – that will own part of the intellectual property of ABAC in India in exchange of an investment that will be summed to those already provided by Ferrer and both ABAC CEOs”
The pharma company is compromised initially in a financial project for 4 years to progress Ab877 to phase I, the optimization of other second compound to preclinical candidate stage and the selection of other leads.
A business model with pharmaceutical support
ABAC Therapeutics is a spin-off of Ferrer Internacional S.A.. It’s business strategy is actually focused on other fields, thus they trusted the economical and logistic support of Abac to Dr. Domingo Gargallo and Dr. Albert Palomer, ABAC founders. Actually, Ferrer possess the 80% of ABAC and the founders the 20% equally shared. The business model is based in a personal management, in which the investigators are part of the project and, from the beginning, introduced an international group of collaborators specialized in different fields, as chemistry or biology. In the first invest round due to be in the next months, ABAC hopes to reach 3,5 million of euros with specialized capital risk foundations and other 6,7 million in 2017.