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Roche drops superbug partnership with Polyphor

But adds inflammation research agreement with Proximagen

Roche 

Roche has opted to discontinue an alliance with Swiss biopharma company Polyphor to develop antibiotics for resistant infections.

Under the terms of the 2013 agreement Roche paid CHF 35m upfront - with another CHF 465m set aside for milestone payments - in return for rights to RG7929/POL7080, a macrocyle antibiotic with a novel mechanism of action.

The drug candidate is being developed to treat infections with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is responsible for about 10% of all hospital-acquired infections in the US and is among the most dangerous drug-resistant microbes.

As with other hospital infections, strains of Pseudomonas are increasingly resistant to current treatments, with more than 15% of P. aeruginosa strands resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics and 5% thought to be resistant to five classes.

POL7080 had reached phase II trials but Roche said in a statement that, having carried out an assessment of the current status and anticipated progress with POL7080, "a streamlined development path as originally planned is no longer an option for Roche".

Rights to the drug revert to Polyphor, which insisted it will continue to pursue its development despite the loss of its big pharma partner. It is currently recruiting patients into a phase II trial in pneumonia patients who have contracted the infection while on ventilators.

The Allschwill-based company announced a separate agreement with Novartis today aimed at the discovery of new macrocycle antibiotic candidates, having forged a similar partnership with Taisho in September.

Roche's decision to drop the programme comes at a time of continued anxiety about the threat of multidrug-resistant (MDR) infections, which the European Medicines Agency described recently as "one of the most serious public health threats globally".

In Europe alone, infections caused by MDR bacteria are estimated to kill around 25,000 people every year. Roche stressed it was still working in the antibiotics field via its collaboration with Meiji Seika Pharma and Fedora Pharmaceuticals announced earlier this year.

Anti-Inflammatory deal

After jettisoning the Polyphor project, Roche added another research deal in the form of a licensing agreement for a novel, oral small molecule inhibitor of Vascular Adhesion Protein 1 (VAP-1) developed by Upsher-Smith Laboratories' UK subsidiary Proximagen.

VAP-1 is a cell-adhesion molecule that may have a role to play in the treatment of inflammation, and Proximagen has taken its inhibitor into a phase II trial involving patients with various inflammatory conditions.

Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed, but Roche said it was a "novel partnering model where regulatory responsibility and trial sponsorship will only transition upon the success of additional clinical studies".

Article by
Phil Taylor

1st December 2015

From: Research

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