NEW YORK—Bioharmony Therapeutics, Inc. has announced a collaborative research and licensing agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim to develop bacteriophage lysins for the treatment of multi-drug resistant (MDR) Acinetobacter infections, a frequent cause of hospital-acquired pneumonia and life-threatening blood or wound infections. Financial terms have not been disclosed.
The discoveries are from the laboratory of Vincent A. Fischetti, Ph.D., a faculty member at The Rockefeller University. Rockefeller has an equity stake in Bioharmony, and both Rockefeller and Fischetti may benefit financially as a result of successful commercialization of the licensed technology. Recently, the World Health Organization listed drug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii to be a critical priority pathogen, causing around 9% of all bacterial infections in intensive care worldwide against which there are few treatment options available.
Jeanne Farrell, Ph.D., Associate Vice President of Technology Advancement at Rockefeller said, “We are excited about the potential of the Bioharmony program in the fight against multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. This collaboration may lead to new treatments in an area of great unmet need.”
Infectious diseases are amongst the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and continue to be a major health challenge for medicine. Increasing levels of resistance threaten the effectiveness of many existing antimicrobial drugs. Lysins are bacteriophage-derived enzymes that cleave the essential bonds in the bacterial cell wall, leading to rapid killing of the target bacteria. As a new antimicrobial class, they could enable the development of urgently needed treatment options for MDR infections.
The partnership is part of Boehringer Ingelheim’s Research Beyond Borders function (RBB), which explores emerging science and technology beyond the company’s core areas of focus. RBB also focuses on gene therapy, regenerative medicine, immune-infection, and the role of the microbiome in human health and disease.
“We look forward to advancing lysins as a first-in-class antimicrobial for the treatment of multi-drug resistant, bacterial infections,” mentioned Chandrabali Ghose, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Bioharmony Therapeutics. “Antibiotic resistance is a global health problem with a large unmet medical need due to the evolution of bacteria and its ability to evade the use of antimicrobials. We hope that our novel approach of developing lysins for treating Acinetobacter infections and our partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim will have a positive impact in the fight against antibiotic resistance.”