Home Interviews Biosergen’s CEO: “this is a global health threat and it needs attention”

Biosergen’s CEO: “this is a global health threat and it needs attention”

Biosergen adresses global health

Biosergen’s CEO: “this is a global health threat and it needs attention”

14 May, 2024

The Novo Nordisk Foundation, Wellcome, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced a USD 300 million initiative to support solutions for major global health threats, including infectious diseases. BioStock spoke with Tine Kold Olesen, CEO at Biosergen, a Swedish biotech developing drugs targeting life-threatening fungal infections, to get her take on this partnership and how it might impact small drug developers like Biosergen. 

According to the World Health Organization, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top global public health threats. Bacterial AMR is perhaps the most well-documented, and a study published in The Lancet reported that bacterial AMR was associated with an estimated 4.95 million deaths worldwide in 2019.

Many experts in the field have been lamenting the fact that not enough attention is being paid to the threat posed by infectious diseases and AMR. The Covid pandemic, however, put the spotlight on the issue. Not only did it shine a light on the health threat represented by infectious diseases as whole, but it also exposed the silent threat of fungal AMR with the emergence and increased spread of the multidrug-resistant pathogen Candida auris.

The threat of fungal infections

Invasive fungal infections (IFIs) can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated promptly. These pathogens are particularly dangerous to patients with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatments, organ transplant recipients, and individuals with HIV/AIDS. As the global population ages and the number of immunosuppressive treatments increases, the incidence of IFIs continues to rise, prompting a need for heightened awareness and improved medical interventions.

At the beginning of the year, The Lancet published a review of global fungal incidence and mortality estimating that 2.5 million people die from IFIs each year, regardless of other underlying conditions. This suggests that increasing threat of IFIs is as serious if not more serious than that of bacterial AMR, and it calls for a coordinated global response to prevent outbreaks and ensure effective treatment by investing in research, enhancing diagnostic capabilities, and fostering international collaboration.

USD 300 million consortium to tackle global health threats

Perhaps we are seeing those worries being heeded. Last week we learned that Novo Nordisk Foundation, Wellcome, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are joining forces and pledging USD 300 million to support solutions for major global health threats, including infectious diseases.

By pooling the vast experience and unique expertise of each organisation […] we can make advances that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, said Novo Nordisk Foundation CEO Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen, adding that he’s particularly excited about the chance to break down barriers between often isolated areas of work.

The funds will also directly support researchers and institutions in low- and middle-income settings, including resources to boost access to existing tools and technologies, strengthen research and development capacities.

Biosergen at the forefront of the IFI fight

Welcoming the new three-year global initiative is Swedish biotech Biosergen. The company’s drug candidate BSG005 is an anti-fungicide that kills a broad spectrum of fungi. What sets BSG005 apart is its ability to kill the fungi, thereby minimising the risk of multi-drug resistance. Additionally, BSG005 manifests a superior safety profile compared to current treatment options.

Watch this BioStock Investor Pitch to learn more about the company and its mission.

CEO insights

BioStock reached out to Biosergen’s CEO Tine Kold Olesen to get her reaction to the USD 300 million investment by Novo/Wellcome/Gates.

Tine Kold Olesen, vd Biosergen
Tine Kold Olesen, CEO Biosergen

Tine, what was your reaction when you saw the news of the initiative?

– I am very excited about this collaboration. It is such an important initiative, and for us it adds infectious diseases/life-threatening fungal infections to the global health agenda. It is a global health threat and it needs attention.

How does such an initiative impact a small company like Biosergen?

– The three parties behind the initiative are known for making a big impact in life science, if they stress the importance of creating progress it resonates with other private investors and governments. This could lead to that investors will look our way for a possible investment opportunity and we do have a very exciting value proposition, we are far in development and we tackle an area with a huge unmet medical need.

How is Biosergen tackling the issue of invasive fungal infections?

– In Biosergen we are determined to avoid the risk of people dying from a life-threatening fungal infection. Our BSG005 has shown in early studies that it is broad-spectrum and can treat resistant and difficult to treat fungal strains. We are currently doing our first clinical study in India in patients that have developed resistance towards current anti-fungal treatment or patients who cannot tolerate current treatment.

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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