Lack of Funding Drives Biotech to Suspend Drug-Resistant Antibiotic Pipeline


Despite the increasing need for antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria, companies are finding it hard to make a play in the field due to lack of funding. Five-year-old X-Biotix announced it is throwing in the towel on its antibacterial research efforts and changing gears for its corporate strategy. 

“This issue is driven by a critical lack of sustained sources of funding to support early-stage research in this field, combined with lack of an appropriate market infrastructure to support the successful commercialization of novel antibiotics,” said Stephen Isaacs, Chairman of X-Biotix.  

After a successful Series A in 2018, X-Biotix was in the process of advancing a novel pipeline of first-in-class programs. Two programs directed against LpxA and LpxC, Gram-negative targets, validated a pathway for which there are currently no antibiotics available.  

The company is suspending its current pipeline efforts and turning to submit manuscripts that “describe its progress in developing novel small molecules that demonstrate inhibitory activity against multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria and on strengthening its intellectual property position with additional filings” according to a press release

Antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance is labeled a top 10 global health and development threat by the World Health Organization (WHO). Antibiotic-resistant infections lengthen hospital stays, increase chances of death and disability, and drive up the health market costs with expensive, long doses of medicines. 

According to WHO, “Antibiotics are becoming increasingly ineffective as drug-resistance spreads globally leading to more difficult to treat infections and death. New antibacterials are urgently needed – for example, to treat carbapenem-resistant gram-negative bacterial infections as identified in the WHO priority pathogen list.” 

Without effective medicines for drug-resistant infections, even basic surgeries like a hip replacement could become dangerous. The medical community is running out of effective antibiotics to treat common infections like a UTI. People with MRSA infections are now 64% more likely to die compared to patients with drug-sensitive infections. 

However, the lack of innovation in this area comes down to funding. 

Isaacs said, “Policy makers must enact market-based reforms, including reimbursement reform and commercial ‘pull’ incentives, in order to revitalize the antibiotics market and drive sustainable investments in antibiotics R&D.” 

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