The University of Washington has signed an exclusive license with ActivBiotics, Inc., of Lexington, Mass., to allow the company to use knowledge and technology developed by Dr. Allan Shor of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, and researchers at the UW for the diagnosis and treatment of arterial chlamydial granuloma, a condition linked to one of the world’s leading causes of death.
The patents represent developments in a discovery first made 11 years ago by Shor and UW researchers that the organism Chlamydia pneumoniae is present in the majority of atherosclerotic plaques. Shor discovered the microorganism in the arterial plaques and the UW scientists identified it as a species of chlamydia. While research is continuing, many researchers think that the organism might exacerbate chronic inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis.
ActivBiotics will pursue research into its lead compound, Rifalazil, and its effects on C. pneumoniae and heart disease.
“As a basic scientist, I find it very satisfying to watch as our work finds its way into the private sector, and perhaps eventually clinical applications that will help people,” said Dr. Cho-chou “Ted” Kuo, one of several co-inventors and a professor of pathobiology in the UW School of Public Health and Community Medicine. “That’s why we are here, and that’s what all this science is about — exploring ways to improve human health.”
“We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to build upon the solid scientific discoveries at the University of Washington,” says Dr. Chalom Sayada, ActivBiotics’ CEO. “The potential is enormous. Atherosclerosis is one of the most deadly of mankind’s diseases and causes premature death and suffering of millions of people on a global basis.”
ActivBiotics has licensed three patents covering both methods of diagnosis and methods of treatment of arterial chlamydial granuloma. The inventors of these patents include Drs. Kuo and Lee Ann Campbell, professors of pathobiology; Dr. Dorothy L. Patton, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology; and Dr. J. Thomas Grayston, professor of epidemiology. The technology is co-owned by the University of Washington with Shor of the Department of Pathology, National Center for Health, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa; UW has a commercialization agreement with Shor.
ActivBiotics says it plans to conduct a Phase II clinical trial later this year in atherosclerosis patients, a large majority of whom are expected to have arterial chlamydial granulomas, or plaques. The company says it plans to continue on the path of drug development with its new generation of ansamycin antibiotics shown to be effective in vitro and in vivo against chlamydia.
“We plan to treat arterial chlamydial granuloma lesions as well as the associated inflammation. We are also planning to target other chronic diseases that are exacerbated or caused by persistent bacterial infections. Some resistant and persistent bacterial infections are likely to be at the bottom of many serious health-care problems. We are excited that our antibiotics have shown very promising results in the appropriate animal models,” Sayada said.
ActivBiotics is a clinical stage company committed to significantly improving the treatment of acute infections and chronic diseases caused or exacerbated by microbial pathogens. The Company’s lead compound, rifalazil, is being investigated in a Phase II trial for sexually transmitted diseases and is preparing to enter Phase II trials in other indications. In addition, the Company has a highly productive program to develop proprietary new chemical entities. The program is producing both narrow and broad spectrum compounds with unprecedented potency and concomitantly improved resistance profile. Additional information can be found at the Company’s web site at www.activbiotics.com.