Uber-antibiotic duo

Sweden’s Pergamum collaborates with India’s Cadila Pharmaceuticals to develop novel peptides to treat infections

Lori Lesko
STOCKHOLM, Sweden—In their first significant businesscollaboration, biopharmaceutical Pergamum AB and Cadila Pharmaceuticals Ltd.,one of the largest privately held pharmaceuticals in India, have joined handsto develop a new therapeutic peptide for treating infections.
 
 
Pergamum is part of the Karolinska Development portfolio anddescribes its novel uber-antibiotic germ-fighter as a "unique targetingmechanism clearly distinguished from classical antibiotics." 
 
 
Under the agreement, the two companies will collaborate onthe preclinical and clinical development of the "unique mechanism," with thedevelopment to be conducted at Cadila's facilities in Ahmedabad, India. Cadilawill be responsible for all costs related to the development of the product upto Phase II clinical trials, but global rights will be shared between thecompanies, according to a Pergamum news release. Further financial informationwas not disclosed.
 
 
With the rise in antibiotic-resistant episodes globally, thetiming could not be better for this partnership. Antibiotic resistance is aserious and growing phenomenon in contemporary medicine and has emerged as oneof the eminent public health concerns of the 21st century, particularly as itpertains to pathogenic organisms.
 
 
"Pergamum has developed a new class of short syntheticpeptides with both anti-infective and anti-inflammatory properties derived fromthe body's own defense system," Jonas Ekblom, Pergamum's CEO, stated in a newsrelease. "There is a rapidly increasing global prevalence of antibioticresistance that limits the therapeutic value of conventional products, and wethink we can meet this need with this novel therapeutic peptide."
 
 
The collaboration gives Pergamum  "the opportunity to have the clinical development up toPhase II completion, fully financed," Ekblom tells ddn. "Pergamum's main goal is to work with CadilaPharmaceuticals to successfully complete Phase I and Phase II clinical studieswith high quality as quickly as possible."
 
The biggest challenges to developing effective treatmentinclude the resistance to conventional antibiotics and an increasing prevalenceof methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Ekblom says.
 
 
"There is also a need for antimicrobials with broad-actionrange like agents that are active against both gram-positive and gram-negativebacteria. Finally, there is a clinical need for new products that have rapidaction," he says.
 
 
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant tocertain antibiotics called beta-lactams. These antibiotics include methicillinand other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin andamoxicillin, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In thecommunity, most MRSA infections are skin infections.
 
Even though the prevalence of MRSA among people withouthealthcare-associated infections remains low (0.24 percent), awareness of thisphenomenon has increased because of outbreaks reported among previously healthymembers, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. These outbreaksof CA-MRSA have emerged in unique and varied populations that are unassociatedwith healthcare settings, such as prison and jail inmates, athletic teams,children in daycare centers, intravenous drug users, indigenous populations,military recruits and homeless populations.
 
 
Upon assuming leadership of Cadila, Rajiv Modi, thecompany's chairman and managing director, charted a multipronged approach forCadila Pharmaceuticals' corporate growth. Envisioning a global presence for thegroup, Modi played a pivotal role in establishing marketing set-up andsubsidiaries of Cadila across the shores.
 
Under his leadership, the group is setting up a PharmaceuticalSector-Specific Special Economic Zone, or PhaEZ Park. He has also led Cadila toacquire a significant stake in Novavax Inc. USA. He also launched CPLBiologicals, a joint venture between Cadila and Novavax, bringing the mostadvanced technology in vaccine manufacturing to India.
 
 
Torbjörn Bjerke, CEO of Karolinska Development and chairmanof Pergamum, stated in a news release, "We are delighted to see thiscollaboration between Cadila and Pergamum. This is a phenomenal opportunity forPergamum to work with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in India, akey emerging pharmaceutical market. The strategic value can be substantial forboth parties."

Lori Lesko

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