CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Visterra, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company that uses its novel Hierotope® technology platform to identify unique disease targets and to design and engineer precision antibody-based biological medicines against such targets, today announced that the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Accelerator (CARB-X), the world’s largest public-private partnership devoted to antibacterial preclinical research and development, has awarded Visterra a research and development contract valued at up to $7.2 million.
The contract will provide committed funding of $3.0 million to advance VIS705, Visterra’s novel antibody-drug conjugate candidate engineered to kill all strains of the deadly Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, with the option, based on successful progression through milestones established by CARB-X, to increase the total funding up to $7.2 million. The CARB-X award will enable Visterra to accelerate its research and preclinical development of VIS705, leading to the expected submission of an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the subsequent initiation of first-in-human clinical trials.
“We are honored to be selected by CARB-X for this contract, which will accelerate the development of VIS705, our antibody-drug conjugate that we expect could be a life-saving single-dose treatment for the deadly Pseudomonas bacteria,” said Brian Pereira, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Visterra. “This award by a highly respected consortium further validates the utility and robustness of our Hierotope® technology platform and our ability to design and engineer precision antibody-based medicines against disease targets that are not adequately addressed with conventional approaches. Moreover, Visterra is proud to play an important role in addressing the significant global public-health threat from deadly treatment-resistant bacteria and we are gratified to be working with such an innovative organization as CARB-X.”
Visterra is developing VIS705 as a single-dose curative therapy, engineered to kill all strains of the deadly Pseudomonas bacteria, including strains that have been found to be multi-drug resistant. VIS705 is a single molecule that combines an organism-targeting antibody with a potent, anti-microbial, cell-killing peptide. VIS705, known as an antibody-drug conjugate, provides an efficient and robust two-step mechanism to target and kill the bacteria. The antibody component of VIS705 first targets and binds to the Pseudomonas bacteria and directs the body’s immune system to attack the bacteria; and, secondly, VIS705 delivers a potent anti-microbial peptide that rapidly kills the targeted bacteria.
About Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
Gram-negative bacteria, which are the cause of many healthcare-associated infections including pneumonia, bloodstream infections, urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections, have become increasingly resistant to many available antibiotic treatments. These infections have been associated with increased patient mortality and significant healthcare costs. Pseudomonas is one of the primary causes of infection by multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria and can be deadly for immunocompromised patients. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 51,000 Pseudomonas infections occur in the United States each year. More than 6,000 of these are multidrug-resistant, with roughly 400 deaths per year attributed to such infections. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Pseudomonas strains resistant to multiple antibiotics has doubled in ICU patients, with the most significant increase in patients suffering from pneumonia. The CDC has included multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas on its “Serious Threats” list, meaning that this bacteria poses a significant concern and requires prompt and sustained action to ensure the problem does not escalate. In addition, the World Health Organization recently declared carbapenem-resistant Pseudomonas as a Priority 1 Critical pathogen on its “Priority Pathogen” list.
Visterra is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on applying its novel Hierotope® platform to identify unique disease targets and to design and engineer precision antibody-based biological medicines against such targets that are not adequately addressed with conventional approaches. These targets include viruses and bacteria – which have a high degree of diversity among strains with frequent mutations – and proteins within the body. Visterra’s lead product candidate, VIS410, is a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of hospitalized patients with influenza A, regardless of the viral strain. The company’s second product candidate, VIS513, is a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of Dengue, and its third product candidate, VIS649, is a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of IgA Nephropathy. In addition, the company is developing an antibody-drug conjugate candidate, VIS705, as a single-dose curative therapy, engineered to kill all strains of the deadly Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, including the potential for multi-drug resistant strains. For more information, visit www.visterrainc.com.
CARB-X is the world’s largest public-private partnership devoted to antibacterial preclinical R&D. Funded by BARDA and Wellcome Trust, with in-kind support from NIAID, we will spend $450 million from 2017-2021 to support innovative products moving towards human clinical trials. CARB-X focuses on high priority drug-resistant bacteria, especially Gram-negatives. CARB-X is a charitable global public-private partnership led by Boston University School of Law. Other partners include the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, MassBio, the California Life Sciences Institute and RTI International. For more information, please visit www.carb-x.org and follow us on Twitter @CARB_X.