MONTPELLIER, France—Biotech company Deinove ended the first quarter of 2018 with the announcement of an exclusive research license with Naicons to expand their bacterial strain bank and hopefully improve the odds of identifying new antibiotics.
According to Emmanuel Petiot, CEO of Deinove, this is the first time the companies have worked together. While both companies focus on the development of antibiotics from non-pathogenic bacteria, they differ slightly in their approaches. “Deinove’s bacterial strains have been selected on the basis of their resistance to UV irradiations, giving rise to unusual bacteria,” Petiot explains. “Naicons has a different approach, and it will be very enriching to work on a diversity of various bacterial strains. We must collaborate in order to tackle the major threat of antibiotic resistance.”
“We chose to open our rare bacteria collection to Deinove as part of an exclusive agreement because we are confident that they have the resources to discover antibiotics through their breakthrough technologies and the know-how of their team. Our collection can provide a larger number of antibiotics than we can discover with our own resources,” said Stefano Donadio, CEO of Naicons.
Under this collaboration, Deinove gains access to 400 strains from Naicons’ 45,000-strong collection. The strains have all been selected for their potential, and Deinove will apply its robotic technology platform to detect and characterize the antibiotic activities of each strain. The agreement stipulates that should Deinove discover a strain of interest, it has the option of acquiring it under the conditions stated in the agreement, either through a commercial license or in full ownership, to initiate development of drug candidates. No financial details were disclosed.
Petiot remarked in a press release that, “Our collaboration with Naicons is a good example of our antibiotics development model: this company historically rooted in the pharmaceutical sector has an interesting biological heritage which potential we can quickly explore, thanks to our reference platform. Joining forces to advance faster is essential to win the battle against the development of antibiotic resistance. This type of collaboration must be extended in the near future if we truly want to respond to this global public health threat.”
Naicons’ library, as noted on the company website, is “mostly filamentous actinomycetes, deriving from >12,000 different sources. Many of the strains are unique to this library. The majority of the strains were isolated over an eight-year period using proprietary methods, with a focus on strains with uncommon morphology (i.e. not resembling known strains), peculiar physiology (slow growth, preference for particular media) or unusual origin (e.g. marine sediments, wild animal excrements, plant material).”
For its part, Deinove boasts a library of 6,000 rare or unexploited bacterial strains, combined with its genetic, metabolic and fermentation engineering platform, which can customize the strains to industrial standards. Deinove has predominately focused on screening its diverse collection for antimicrobial activity, Petiot notes, and its merge with Deinobiotics, its former subsidiary, provided the company with “a comprehensive technological platform able to screen for and optimize molecules.”
“[The] main challenge is discovering a totally new structure towards which no pathogenic bacteria have developed resistance,” he tells DDNews. “We believe in the potential of our rare strains to achieve this goal. We already patented a new structure—that is a very good proof of concept.”
Deinove is currently advancing its AGIR (Antibiotics against Resistant Infectious Germs) project with Deinobiotics. The project is executed by Deinove and the Charles Viollette Institute, and the goal is “to implement an innovative strategy for the discovery of new antimicrobials—antibiotics and antifungal agents—through an integrated and automated approach. Its objective is to develop new technologies to optimize the platform for selecting, identifying and developing new antimicrobial molecules of natural origin,” per a Deinove press release. The company announced in December 2017 that the project had been selected by the “Investments for the Future” Program (led by the General Investment Commission and operated by Bpifrance) and would receive €14.6 million. The project represents a total investment of €25 million over the course of five years. Of the financing from the Investments for the Future project, €10.4 million will go to Deinove while the Charles Viollette Institute will receive €4.2 million.
At the time of that announcement, Aïcha Douhou, life sciences sector manager at Bpifrance Innovation, commented that “We are very pleased to support Deinove in its innovative approach around the discovery of new antibiotics. This should accelerate the development of solutions to address infectious diseases that are developing more and more rapidly at a global level.”