BIO-X awards project to develop groundbreaking treatment of multi-resistant bacteria
‘Eating half an egg a day for three weeks will cure chronic patients with multi-resistant ESBL* producing bacteria’, says Professor Anders Larsson enthusiastically, when presenting the vision of the ESBL Project.
When all antibiotics have failed, what do you do?
In modern society, the threat of multi-resistant bacteria is growing alarmingly, forcing hospitals to close wards and send patients home to minimise the spread of untreatable bacteria. The ‘ESBL Project’, headed by Anders Larsson at the Dept of Medical Sciences, Section of Clinical Chemistry at Akademiska sjukhuset, Uppsala aims to bring a novel treatment to market: a solution that contains proteins (antibodies) against bacterial infection.
BIO-X – rocket fuel and guidance systems
In 2009, BIO-X awarded the ESBL Project around 3 million SEK over 2 years. His group has already achieved major progress, with high expectations of entering the first patient in a clinical trial in January 2011.
One critical milestone for the project was the identification of an industrial partner, Fresenius-Kabi, that contributes expertise in making the antibody solution stable in freeze storage. Quality control and standardisation are essential in drug manufacturing. These processes are already in place for the ESBL Project with only minor additions needed to meet regulatory demands. Protein content is highly reproducible, enabling a simple dosage schedule. ‘A dose equal to half an egg a day for 21 days, will be used in the trial,’ says Anders Larsson. Team members at the Dept. of Clinical Microbiology at Akademiska Sjukhuset, Uppsala are nearly finished culturing the ‘master’ and ‘working’ lots of bacteria. This provides the antigens for immunising the hens, from which egg yolk containing the antibodies is harvested. ‘I am confident that material will be ready for the first trial patient next year,’ says Anders.
Lower cost to beat the bug
‘If the trial proves our concept, it will raise the interest of authorities and investors to support regulatory approval,’ says Anders Larsson. Approved treatment could have a huge impact on reducing the cost of multi-resistant bacterial infections, currently at USD 17,000 per patient in USA. ‘A future product would be highly competitive, significantly lowering the cost for society. And think of the immense value for the patient who gets cured for good,’ says Anders.
A gentle push in the right direction
‘We have a tradition of industrial collaboration, we strive to commercialise our work,’ says Anders Larsson. The support of BIO-X and its Advisory Board was essential in progressing the ESBL Project. BIO-X gave hands-on feedback and advice in multiple areas. The project gained momentum from BIO-X project plan support. ‘BIO-X gently pushed us to be clear on objectives and to stick to timelines. Coming from academic science, I found this a most rewarding feature of BIO-X,’ says Anders.
Anders was impressed by the simplicity of the application process, and was pleased with the objective yet demanding feedback he received early on. ‘Collaborating with BIO-X is really worthwhile, and in comparison to other applications for funds, it was easy. That makes my job easy to like,’ Anders concludes with a smile.
* ESBL – extended spectrum beta-lactamases