AdjuTec Pharma is determined in its mission to address the escalating issue of antimicrobial resistance. Stemming from research at the University of Oslo, the company is now advancing towards creating adjuvant technologies to neutralise key bacterial resistance mechanisms. The company is currently heading towards phase I studies with its main candidate APC148.
AdjuTec Pharma is a product of substantial research conducted at the University of Oslo, founded in 2019 with a vision rooted in combating the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The global issue of AMR is escalating, with over 1.2 million lives lost in 2019, a toll surpassing those from malaria or AIDS.
The overuse of antibiotics has dulled their efficacy against severe infections, turning commonplace ailments into potential death sentences. AMR has been placed on WHO’s list of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. The crisis, labelled a “hidden pandemic,” hits poorer nations the hardest but poses a threat to all, underscoring an urgent call for new drugs and judicious antibiotic use.
Pressing need for new solutions
The current approach to counter AMR entails experimenting with higher doses of antibiotics, combining different antibiotics, and reverting to older antibiotics previously set aside due to side effect risks. These methods, however, come with heightened risks of side effects, morbidity, and extended hospital stays, presenting a pressing need for more innovative and safer solutions.
The Biden administration recently announced a 100 MUSD research drive, to support the development of drugs the combat this problem.
As one of the players trying to remedy this situation, AdjuTec seeks to inhibit critical bacterial resistance mechanisms, thereby restoring the antibiotics’ effectiveness against multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. The technology primarily targets the neutralisation of bacterial enzymes known as β-lactamases, which are pivotal in rendering the bacterial strains resistant to antibiotic treatments.
Focusing on overlooked target
Doing this, AdjuTec is looking to preserve the susceptibility of broad-spectrum antibiotics, especially crucial for drugs like carbapenems, which often are the last resort against severe infections.
Looking a bit closer at the situation, there are two main families of β-lactamases; serine-β-lactamases (SBL) and metallo-β-lactamases (MBL). Trying to find a solution, drug developers have so far been concentrating on inhibiting SBL, thus only solving one part of the problem. Nonetheless, today these products are already raking in sales of approximately 400 MUSD annually.
AdjuTec’s lead product APC148 is designed for the treatment of patients grappling with Gram-negative infections. The drug candidate specifically targets MBLs, setting it apart in the AMR treatment landscape. So far, preclinical data points to APC148 being safe and highly effective against a number of multidrug resistant bacteria strains.
Advancing towards phase I studies
The company is currently heading towards clinical studies with the candidate. The FDA has granted it a Qualified Infectious Disease Product designation and the plan is to submit a clinical trial application later in 2023.
AdjuTec is currently looking to raise capital to move the project through the initial clinical phase. The company recently redirected its entire Eurostars grant towards the APC148 program. The 1.4 MEUR will cover 30 per cent of the required funding for the phase Ia study, which is planned to launch early 2024.
Hoping for additional non-diluting funds
Additionally, the company is hoping for further non-dilutive funding from the EU’s EIC Accelerator program for new advanced technologies. After a favourable initial evaluation by four reviewers, AdjuTec anticipates a final response by December 2023. The evaluators recognised APC148’s approach and breakthrough potential:
“This can be considered as a unique approach and a highly innovative product with breakthrough potential. The competitive advantage lies in the targeting of MBLs, and when combined, targeting MBLs and SBLs, what no other available product/treatment currently achieves. The competitive overview is comprehensive and credible”, the company writes in a press release.
Watch CEO Bjørn Klem present the company at BioStock Investor Meeting here.
Read more about AdjuTec Pharma on their website.