The AMR Action Fund, the world’s largest public-private partnership to invest in antibiotic development, on April 4 announced its first investments: funding Adaptive Phage Therapeutics and Venatorx Pharmaceuticals to develop phage and molecules that can fight antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
“Investment into antimicrobials has not kept pace with the threat to global health security. Recognizing this problem, over 20 pharmaceutical companies that are members of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA), together with the WHO, the European Investment Bank, and the Wellcome Trust, launched the AMR Action Fund by raising nearly $1 billion … with the overall goal of bringing two to four new antibiotics to patients within a decade,” AMR’s announcement notes.
The science behind the funded projects
Adaptive Phage Therapeutics works with bacteriophage (“phage”). Phage, like the one depicted in the illustration above, are naturally occurring “viruses that host on bacteria. Phage are targeted to specific bacteria and do not face the challenges posed by traditional antibiotics,” their website explains. “If bacterial resistance emerges in response to the initial phage administration, APT is able to rapidly identify a new phage that is effective against the mutated strain. This process can be continued until the bacterial infection is cured. No conventional antibiotics can be developed to deal with bacterial resistance with such rapidity.” Adaptive Phage Therapeutics is developing a PhageBank “a growing collection including hundreds of phage targeting six of the highest priority multi-drug resistant bacterial pathogens. Together this collection of phage provide a broad spectrum of coverage,” says the website. (Read more about Adaptive Phage Therapeutics here.)
“Venatorx Pharmaceuticals is a private company that is focused on the discovery and development of novel anti-infectives to treat multi-drug-resistant (MDR) bacterial infections and hard-to-treat viral infections,” the company says in their website. “Venatorx Pharmaceuticals is pursuing novel chemical approaches to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections and hard-to-treat viral infections. Venatorx has built a world-class in-house research and development organization that has filed over 120 patents. All investigational molecules were discovered internally.” (Read more about Venatorx here.)
Fulfilling the mission
“From inception, the AMR Action Fund has focused on identifying investments that will yield urgently needed treatments and catalyze long-term innovation to take on the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which now kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS or malaria,” says Bill Burns, Board Chair of the AMR Action Fund. “Welcoming Adaptive Phage Therapeutics and Venatorx Pharmaceuticals as our first portfolio companies demonstrates that we are well on our way to fulfilling this important mission.”