Discover Adenium, a small biotech company from Denmark. It develops the molecule that may become the next generation of antibiotics.
“Every antibiotic in use today is based on a discovery made more than 30 years ago”. This is a worriedly observation done by the Pew Trust Charity in 2016. Indeed, antibiotics become less and less efficient. And since the 80’s, no new mechanism to fight bacterial infections has been brought onto the market.
Despite their investments and efforts, big pharma companies struggle to develop a new class of antibiotic drug. For the company supporting the initiative, developing a brand new drug is demanding. It requires to take risks, and enough flexibility to change plans with new approaches if needed. What if the solution comes from small biotech companies?
In the race against the rising antibiotic resistance, smaller research companies emerge. For instance, the Danish biotech company Adenium Biotech is committed to finding the next therapeutic mechanism. They explore the potential of a new group of antimicrobial peptides called Arenicin-3. Peptides of this group have the advantage to attack bacteria membranes in a novel way.
In particular, one molecule of the Arenicin-3 group is very promising: the AA139 peptide. Indeed, it is not toxic to human tissues and seems to have high bacteria-killing activity, including bacteria that are resistant to currently available antibiotics. For these reasons, it was judged by Adenium as a good candidate for drug development.
In 2014, the Danish company joined the EU-funded PneumoNP project as the AA139 peptide was at an early preclinical stage. The European project was a good opportunity for Adenium to test AA139 and compare the peptide to other promising molecules. Now, Adenium has GMP produced AA139 and is progressing toward clinical development.
Also, the PneumoNP project explored an interesting area for AA139. The project team loaded the peptide in a shell made of a nanoparticle and results showed that AA139 retained its antimicrobial activity after encapsulation. Results of the related studies should be published soon.
Currently, only a few non-traditional antibiotics are under clinical development. There are probiotics, antibodies, and vaccines. Antimicrobial peptides build hope for a new class of novel antibiotics. At the end, the innovation might come from small biotech companies like Adenium.