CARB-X is awarding Taxis Pharmaceuticals, based in Monmouth Junction, up to $3.2 million in non-dilutive funding to develop efflux pump inhibitors (EPI), a new drug class designed to destroy a major mechanism of multi-drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.
Taxis is eligible for additional funding of up to $11.4 million if the project achieves certain milestones. If successful, the Taxis EPI would enable existing antibiotics to once again be effective against drug-resistant bacterial infections that cannot currently be treated effectively.
Taxis’ EPIs are designed to disable the bacteria’s efflux pumps, which act like bilge pumps to flush out antibiotics from the bacterial cell in order to safeguard the superbug from the effects of antibiotics. They have been shown to potentiate the activity of several antibiotic classes, including against contemporary isolates that also feature other resistance mechanisms, and have the potential for reduced toxicity compared to earlier EPI programs.
We believe delivering a durable solution to antibiotic-resistant infections could result in a significant cost-effective societal benefit.
– Greg Mario, CEO, Taxis Pharmaceuticals
“Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an intrinsically resistant pathogen, with a nearly impermeable outer membrane and with the ability to turn on many efflux pumps to eject antibiotics that make it through,” said Erin Duffy, chief of research and development of CARB-X, which is based at the Boston University School of Law. “The Taxis project is in the early stages of development but if successful, it would potentially be a leap forward in combating drug-resistance mechanisms and restoring the utility of many existing antibiotics.”
CARB-X is led by Boston University and funded by a global partnership.
“We’re extremely gratified that CARB-X has chosen to fund our EPI drug development program,” said Greg Mario, chief executive officer of Taxis Pharmaceuticals. “This new drug class is designed to enable the reuse of existing generic antibiotics by addressing an elemental form of drug resistance. We believe delivering a durable solution to antibiotic-resistant infections could result in a significant cost-effective societal benefit.”
Taxis’ EPI project targets multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa with an emphasis on hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 32,600 cases of multi-drug-resistant P. aeruginosa infection in hospitalized patients in the U.S. alone in 2017, and these infections caused 2,700 deaths that same year. Infections caused or complicated by P. aeruginosa include pneumonia, urinary tract infections and blood stream infections.