Antibiotics are probably one of the greatest medical advances in our history. They have saved millions around the world, changed the way we treat diseases, and cured illnesses once never thought possible. However, antibiotic resistance is an increasingly serious threat to global public health.
Sadly, the industry has failed to deliver new drugs. Each generation of antibiotics that has come through has raised the bar for what is necessary to discover and develop the next generation. Consequently, discovery and development of antibiotics has become scientifically more complex, more expensive, and more time consuming over time, and antibiotics thus represents a poor return on investment relative to other classes of drugs. In short, there is a major financial disincentive for drug companies to develop antibiotics.
However, the drug discovery startup Discuva is determined to battle antibiotic resistance. They use groundbreaking new technologies to successfully develop completely new classes of antibiotics against highly drug-resistant pathogens. The drugs produced by the Cambridge, UK-based company are developed to have two major advantages over conventional antibiotics; no development of cross resistance and fewer side effects, giving safer and more effective treatments.
The company’s technology, known as SATIN (Selective Antibiotic Target IdentificatioN), allow them to identify targets that affect bacterial growth and genes associated with the development of resistance. Discuva has also developed what they call the SILK platform, which accurately determine the best combinations of antibiotics to dramatically reduce resistance. In fact, many antibiotics that has failed in the clinic due to resistance would have succeeded if they were administered with an appropriate partner. These technologies not only ensure that all antibiotics pursued are those who have the best chance of reaching the clinic, but have a higher chance of clinical success and long market life.
The innovative startup targeting emerging and drug-resistant bacterial pathogens won the Innovation Attracting Investment award at the Innovate UK Small Business Innovation Awards after attracting significant investment from both private funding and a partnership with the pharma giant Roche. The partnership is potentially worth over £115 million plus royalties for each product brought to market, giving an insight into the huge potential of the startup.
Antibiotic resistance currently accounts for an estimated 50,000 deaths in the US and Europe. If it is allowed to grow unchecked, with no new drug to combat it, the number of deaths per year could balloon to 10 million by 2050 according to a report. The same report estimates that those deaths would cost the world up to 3.5 percent of its total gross domestic product, or up to $100 trillion by 2050. However, the looming crisis can be averted if actions are taken, and Discuva and their innovative technologies could definitely be that answer.