The grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases will enable Arrevus, a biotechnology company, to develop a compound library and screening platform needed to develop potential antibiotic therapies.
Carl Kraus, CEO of Arrevus, told us, “Essentially, we have a lead compound that has been developed from in-licensing ARV-1502 from Temple University. It is an engineered peptide that has some pretty interesting attributes and seems to be quite effective against gram-negative bacteria in multiple animal models; the sequence has been optimized for gram-negative bacteria.”
“What this grant will allow us to do is to create iterations of that lead compound, changing some of the medicinal chemistry around it and trying to screen it against other types of targets in different bacteria, allowing us to find the optimal new inhibitor for diseases such as gram-positive infections, or tuberculosis.” he further explained.
Karaus said that the screening platforms available today are not optimized for the type of molecule Arrevus is working on, but are suited for earlier generations of antibiotics in the marketplace.
“With our platform now, we’ll be able to identify new inhibitors that would be effective for other types of infections and lead to the expansion of our portfolio,” he said.
The platform uses DnaK, a bacterial protein responsible for folding of bacterial proteins, as a focus to find inhibitors.
“DnaK is present in essentially every bacteria we know of,” said Kraus, “The sequences of that protein changes from certain bacterial families to another. So, if we have an inhibitor for a specific target, we would have to change that inhibitor from one species to another, and that’s kind of the intent of this initiative – to try and find new inhibitors for specific bacterial targets focusing on DnaK.”
Arrervus’ IDEA platform will, in turn, allow the company to expand the number of its lead compounds. By doing so, the company will be able to expand its portfolio of useful compounds that can be eventually brought to the clinic.
Kraus added, “The benefit here [to this compound library and platform] is that we’d have a whole new class of compounds that wouldn’t have any kind of legacy resistance.” Therefore, the antibiotics that are currently on the market that may fail, because they are not as effective anymore, could be replaced with a new group of antibiotics.
The company will be working with the University of Montana’s Medical Biofilms Laboratory to develop its platform and compound library. Through this grant, the company will have an opportunity to identify lead compounds aimed at potential therapies for diseases with limited options.