Debiopharm eyes antibiotics market

Company teams up with TCG Lifesciences to develop novel class of antibiotics

Lloyd Dunlap
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Debiopharm Group, the Switzerland-based global biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the development of prescription drugs that target unmet medical needs, now including oncology as well as companion diagnostics, and TCG Lifesciences Ltd. (TCGLS), a Kolkata, India-based contract research services company that specializes in the area of early drug discovery and development, have entered into an exclusive discovery collaboration to develop innovative antibiotics targeting drug-resistant bacteria for community hospital-acquired infections.  
The collaboration with TCGLS will focus on a novel, undisclosed target with the expectation of finding a "new class of molecules," the company states. Under the terms of the agreement, TCGLS will contribute its expertise in the discovery and optimization of lead compounds, while Debiopharm will provide drug development expertise and fund the development program.  
Debiopharm Group in-licenses, develops and/or co-develops promising biological and small-molecule drug candidates. The products are out-licensed to pharmaceutical partners for sales and marketing. Debiopharm is also active in the field of companion diagnostics. Debiopharm independently funds the worldwide development of all of its products while providing expertise in preclinical and clinical trials, manufacturing, drug delivery and formulation and regulatory affairs.  
Antibiotics represent a new strategic therapeutic area for Debiopharm. Debiopharm has been active in India since 2006, and the company notes that it has established a strong network in the country, including all of the major players in drug discovery. In its new focus on antibiotics, Debiopharm's goal is to become a key participant in the area of antibacterials to fulfill the increasing need for new classes of antibiotics to overcome resistance to current treatment.
"We foresee increasing our commitment in this field over next few months through additional partnerships and investments in other innovative targets," says David Deperthes, Debiopharm's vice president of business development and licensing. "We are very enthusiastic about this partnership with TCGLS for the development of novel antibiotics. Their extensive experience in medicinal chemistry and infectious diseases is a major asset for the development of Debio 1348," which is listed on the company's website as being in early discovery for infectious diseases aimed at an "innovative target."
TCGLS started operations in 2001 in India and is currently active in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia and employs more than 800 scientists.
"We are indeed excited about this program which involves a challenging new target to potentially address the vast incidence of nosocomial infections that plague healthcare facilities all over the world," says Swapan Bhattacharya, managing director of TCGLS. "Debiopharm's developmental expertise, combined with our medicinal chemistry capabilities and efficient discovery operations, provide an attractive opportunity for accelerated discovery of novel drug candidates for clinical development."
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year, nearly 2 million people in the United States acquire an infection while in a hospital, resulting in 90,000 deaths. More than 70 percent of the bacteria that cause these infections are resistant to at least one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat them. The European CDC states that at least 25,000 patients in the EU die each year from infections due to bacteria that are resistant to a number of marketed drugs.

Lloyd Dunlap

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