Promiliad Biopharma is hoping its early development efforts yield a new drug capable of beating bacteria that have grown resistant to most antibiotics on the market today. The most well-known example is a Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, infection.
“The problem with the antibiotics out today are that their mechanisms are essentially well-known by bacteria, and the bacteria are rapidly developing to overcome them,” said Steve Bergmeier, one of Promiliad’s principals and a chemistry professor at Ohio University.
The company’s technology works by targeting a specific enzyme that bacteria use to synthesize DNA. If bacteria are unable to synthesize DNA, they die because they can’t replicate, Bergmeier said.
For several years, we’ve been hearing about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria and the dearth of new medications in development to combat them. A 2009 Time Magazine article called the situation “desperate” and noted that superbugs like MRSA were rendering traditional antibiotics “obsolete.”
“The issue is quite dreadful,” a researcher told Time. “When you look down the pipeline, there are only a handful of new antibiotics in development, and all in the early stages.”
That’s where Promiliad could come in, although the company’s work is still in the very early stages. The company was started nearly a decade ago, but changed its focus to antibacterial drugs in recent years, Bergmeier said.
Promiliad has collected about $3.5 million in funding over the years, with most coming from National Institutes of Health grants. The company recently received a boost with a $100,000 grant from TechGrowth Ohio, a state-backed business development group in Athens.
The company will use the funding for animal studies of its superbug-fighting drug candidates, Bergmeier said.
The next year or two will likely hold lots of preclinical testing for Promiliad, which hopes to file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration within two years. Additionally, the company is hoping to attract interest from a bigger drug company to help fund the expensive and lengthy clinical trials required to begin selling a pharmaceutical to the public.
“Our key focus beyond animal testing is looking for partners to help devlop the drug,” Bergmeier said. “We don’t have the experience and resources to take it much beyond filing the IND.”