Multinational healthcare company Roche has partnered with Warp Drive Bio in hopes of using the U.S.-based biotech firm’s technology platform to discover new classes of antibiotics.
Under the terms of the deal, Roche will pay Warp Drive $87 million in preclinical milestones and fees as part of a pact to explore new classes of natural products targeting gram-negative bacteria. Roche will provide $300 million in payments related to specific clinical, regulatory and sales milestones on products licensed to Roche. Warp Drive is also eligible to receive tiered royalties for development candidates up to double digits on future net sales.
Warp Drive will deploy its proprietary Genome Mining Platform to advance multiple novel classes of antibiotics with activity against clinically important, drug-resistant, Gram-negative pathogens.
The company’s platform enables access to natural product drugs that have not been analyzed previously, owing to historical technology limitations.
Warp Drive is identifying and evaluating over one hundred novel classes of potential antibiotics that were previously undiscovered and have not been analyzed for their impact on human health, according to the company.
There are currently ten classes of natural antibiotics that have been approved for patient use as compared to five classes of synthetic antibiotics. The last antibiotic from a novel natural class approved by the FDA was daptomycin, discovered more than 30 years ago.
“We are committed to bringing urgently needed novel antibiotic medicines to patients, and we are delighted to be collaborating with Roche in that goal,” said Laurence Reid, Ph.D., CEO of Warp Drive Bio. “Antimicrobial resistance is an extraordinary threat to global human health, and Warp Drive’s unique platform allows us to access a vast reservoir of uncharacterized natural products from which to identify novel antibiotics.”
Antibacterial resistance is worsening due to a slowdown in the discovery and development of new antibiotics in recent years. The lack of new effective treatment options may lead to infections becoming more difficult to treat in the future as resistance to existing therapies spreads.
A 2016 UK-based project, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, released estimates of the near-future (by 2050) global toll of antibiotic resistance would be 10 million deaths per year.