Alterity and UniQuest Partner to Reverse Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics

New commercial opportunity for PBT2

A note from the Medika Editors

The importance of this partnership cannot be overstressed. We are facing a looming global medical crisis as antimicrobial resistance grows. The development of new antibiotics has not been prioritized and therefore this novel approach that seeks rather to restore the efficacy of existing drugs is hugely important. This will be one to watch closely.

Date of Release: Dec. 21, 2020

Alterity Therapeutics
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MELBOURNE, Australia /PRNewswire/ — Alterity Therapeutics (ASX: ATH,NASDAQ: ATHE) (“Alterity” or “the Company”) has today announced it has been granted a licence by UniQuest, the commercialisation company of The University of Queensland (UQ), to novel zinc ionophore technology to combat antimicrobial resistance in superbugs.

Under the licence, Alterity has secured the worldwide exclusive right to patented technology to develop and commercialise therapies that re-sensitise bacteria to antibiotics. The licensed technology combines Alterity’s PBT2 and other zinc ionophores with commonly used antibiotics to treat infections caused by multidrug resistant bacteria. This is an opportunity for Alterity to further leverage its investment in PBT2.

PBT2, Alterity’s most advanced zinc ionophore, breaks the resistance of many important superbugs to available antibiotics, and is covered for this use by patents until 2038. Importantly, PBT2 has previously completed long term preclinical safety studies and phase 2 clinical trial testing in other indications and has been shown to have a favourable safety profile in those trials.

A recently published article in the high-impact journal Science Translational Medicine[1], showed that PBT2 could reverse antibiotic resistance to critical superbugs and demonstrate efficacy in an animal model of sepsis.

Professor Mark Walker of The University of Queensland said: “The results from our paper demonstrate that by breaking the resistance of superbugs, PBT2 and other zinc ionophores have the potential to restore the efficacy of several widely available antibiotics.”

The authors also noted that superbugs exposed to a combination of PBT2 and antibiotics had a very low propensity to develop further resistance, making the emergence of cross-resistance to the novel treatment unlikely. Thus, PBT2 may help address the issue of antimicrobial resistance without becoming part of the problem.

Geoffrey Kempler, Alterity’s Chairman and CEO said: “Even without the effects Covid-19, antibiotic resistant pathogens kill more than 700,000 people each year and represent a major threat to global public health”.

“The approach developed by our collaborators is novel and potentially revolutionary. Existing antibiotics are losing the battle against these infections and science is struggling to keep up as pathogens continually adapt. Because we can combine PBT2 with existing antibiotics, many of which are generic, this approach has strong commercial value to Alterity.”

The World Health Organisation has declared antibiotic resistant bacteria a serious threat to global health that requires novel strategies to overcome the problem. PBT2 can break the resistance of the most important resistant pathogens designated by the WHO.[1],[2]

“The critical and urgent importance of this work is amplified in the current context of Covid-19, because secondary bacterial infections associated with viral pandemics are an important cause of mortality[3]. The need for effective antimicrobial regimens is very high,” added Mr Kempler.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the technology had the potential to be a catalyst for change in what was a significant and growing public health problem. “This partnership has significant potential to help combat a growing and complex global problem,” he said.

In exchange for the grant of exclusive worldwide rights, once Alterity generates commercialization revenue, UniQuest is entitled to receive certain payments including milestone and royalty payments commensurate with academic licenses.

Alterity intends to direct new resources to the project with no impact on its lead commercialisation program for ATH434, which is advancing to Phase 2 in Multiple System Atrophy, a Parkinsonian disorder with no approved therapy.

1.  De Oliveira D, Bohlmann L, Conroy T, et al. Repurposing a neurodegenerative disease drug to treat Gram-negative antibiotic- resistant bacterial sepsis. Science Translational Medicine 18 Nov 2020: Vol. 12, Issue 570, eabb3791. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abb3791
2.  Bohlmann L, De Oliveira D, El-Deeb I, et al. 2018. Chemical synergy between ionophore PBT2 and zinc reverses antibiotic resistance. mBio 9:e02391-18.
3.  Morens, D, Taubenberger, J, and Fauci, A. Predominant Role of Bacterial Pneumonia as a Cause of Death in Pandemic Influenza: Implications for Pandemic Influenza Preparedness. J Infect Dis. 2008 October 1; 198(7): 962–970. doi:10.1086/591708.

Authorization & Additional information

This announcement was authorized by Geoffrey Kempler, Chairman and CEO of Alterity Therapeutics Limited.

SOURCE Alterity Therapeutics Limited


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