Debiopharm eyes antibiotics market

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

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LAUSANNE,Switzerland—Debiopharm Group, the Switzerland-based globalbiopharmaceutical company that focuses on the development ofprescription drugs that target unmet medical needs, now includingoncology as well as companion diagnostics, and TCG Lifesciences Ltd.(TCGLS), a Kolkata, India-based contract research services company thatspecializes in the area of early drug discovery and development, haveentered into an exclusive discovery collaboration to develop innovativeantibiotics targeting drug-resistant bacteria for communityhospital-acquired infections.

The collaboration with TCGLS willfocus on a novel, undisclosed target with the expectation of finding a"new class of molecules," the company states. Under the terms of theagreement, TCGLS will contribute its expertise in the discovery andoptimization of lead compounds, while Debiopharm will provide drugdevelopment expertise and fund the development program.

DebiopharmGroup in-licenses, develops and/or co-develops promising biological andsmall-molecule drug candidates. The products are out-licensed topharmaceutical partners for sales and marketing. Debiopharm is alsoactive in the field of companion diagnostics. Debiopharm independentlyfunds the worldwide development of all of its products while providingexpertise in preclinical and clinical trials, manufacturing, drugdelivery and formulation and regulatory affairs.

Antibioticsrepresent a new strategic therapeutic area for Debiopharm. Debiopharmhas been active in India since 2006, and the company notes that it hasestablished a strong network in the country, including all of the majorplayers in drug discovery. In its new focus on antibiotics, Debiopharm'sgoal is to become a key participant in the area of antibacterials tofulfill the increasing need for new classes of antibiotics to overcomeresistance to current treatment.

"We foresee increasing ourcommitment in this field over next few months through additionalpartnerships and investments in other innovative targets," says DavidDeperthes, Debiopharm's vice president of business development andlicensing. "We are very enthusiastic about this partnership with TCGLSfor the development of novel antibiotics. Their extensive experience inmedicinal chemistry and infectious diseases is a major asset for thedevelopment of Debio 1348," which is listed on the company's website asbeing in early discovery for infectious diseases aimed at an "innovativetarget."

TCGLS started operations in 2001 in India and iscurrently active in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia andemploys more than 800 scientists.

"We are indeed excited aboutthis program which involves a challenging new target to potentiallyaddress the vast incidence of nosocomial infections that plaguehealthcare facilities all over the world," says Swapan Bhattacharya,managing director of TCGLS. "Debiopharm's developmental expertise,combined with our medicinal chemistry capabilities and efficientdiscovery operations, provide an attractive opportunity for accelerateddiscovery of novel drug candidates for clinical development."

TheCenters for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year, nearly 2million people in the United States acquire an infection while in ahospital, resulting in 90,000 deaths. More than 70 percent of thebacteria that cause these infections are resistant to at least one ofthe antibiotics commonly used to treat them. The European CDC statesthat at least 25,000 patients in the EU die each year from infectionsdue to bacteria that are resistant to a number of marketed drugs.

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