GARDP commits $20 million for Bugworks’ molecule to fight MDR bacteria

Bugworks Research has granted manufacturing and commercialisation rights for BWC0977 in as many as 146 countries, GARDP said

Updated - June 11, 2024 03:00 pm IST

Published - June 11, 2024 02:29 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Swiss not-for-profit organisation Global Antibiotic Research & Development Partnership (GARDP) will provide up to $20 million in technical and financial support for an innovative compound with broad-spectrum antibiotic activity biopharma firm Bugworks Research Inc. is developing against multidrug-resistant bacteria that cause life-threatening infections.

Also read: Sustained rise in antimicrobial resistance in India: ICMR study

The firm, in return, has granted manufacturing and commercialisation rights for BWC0977, the compound, in as many as 146 countries, almost all of which are low- or middle-income (LMICs), GARDP said, announcing a collaboration agreement with the firm for co-developing the product.

“We are excited to work with Bugworks to make key investments at this critical stage in the development of compound BWC0977,” GARDP Executive Director Manica Balasegaram said. “Many compounds in the antibiotic pipeline lack innovative characteristics and fail to target priority pathogens. In contrast, BWC0977 stands out for sits novelty and potential to address unmet public health needs,” he said in a release.

The technical and financial support is tied to the successful completion of key research and development milestones. Initially, GARDP will bring expertise and financial support for critical aspects of BWC0977’s pharmaceutical development, including product formulation. Subsequent investments will support clinical development and chemistry, manufacturing and control activities to ensure the final product is suitable for use in diverse countries and contexts, including low-resource settings.

BWC0977 has in vitro activity against a broad spectrum of pathogens that lead to serious hospital-acquired infections like pneumonia, bloodstream infections and complicated urinary tract infections. Among these pathogens are WHO critical priority pathogens, carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii and Klebsiella pneumoniae, for which few treatment options exist.

“Bugworks is delighted to partner with GARDP to advance compound BWC0977 through clinical development to treat a variety of drug-resistant bacterial infections,” Anand Anandkumar, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said. Enabling access to the compound simultaneously in Western countries and in LMICs with high AMR burden is an overarching goal of the partnership, he said.

Bugworks was set up in 2014 and incubated at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) in Bengaluru. Since 2017, Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) had provided critical support for the pre-clinical development and first-inhuman (Phase-1) clinical study of the compound, including $12.47 million in funding. GARDP will now collaborate with Bugworks to further develop BWC0977 and, upon approval, enable global access.

“Proud of our financial and non-financial support for the Bugworks that this compound has been primed for advanced development, we look forward to GARDP’s support in bringing this potential novel, broad-spectrum antibiotic to patients,” Erin Duffy, R&D Chief at CARB-X, said.

BWC0977 is currently in a Phase-I clinical trial. GARDP and Bugworks had last year signed a term sheet to initiate the collaboration, which would include up to $20 million funding.

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