News

Spin-off RUG to develop new antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria

Prof. Oscar Kuipers and Dr. Auke van Heel have set up the spin-off company Omnicin Therapeutics to develop new antibiotics against resistant bacteria. In their research into new possibilities for combating multi-resistant bacteria, the researchers have discovered substances that improve the functioning of existing antibiotics. An important discovery, given the worldwide increase in the percentage of bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics.

There exist Gram-negative bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria that cause diseases. In contrast to Gram-positive bacteria, the Gram-negative bacteria have an extra layer – outer membrane – on the outside. As a result, some antibiotics that work on Gram-positive bacteria, but aren’t active on Gram-negative bacteria. The newly discovered substances act as gate-openers that allow antibiotics to pass the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. The substances thus enable the treatment diseases caused by Gram-negative bacteria, with antibiotics that are normally only used for Gram-positive pathogens.

Resistance

The worldwide percentage of bacteria that are resistant to one or more antibiotics is rising. Many organizations, including WHO, have called for action for this problem. The invention of Prof. Kuipers and PhD student Qian Li is using two compounds that show no or very little antibiotic activity by themselves and only show good efficacy when combined. This makes it a new class of antibiotic strategy.

Omnicin Therapeutics

With the newly established Omnicin Therapeutics, the researchers want to ensure that the new class of antibiotics are accepted and registered. Dr. Auke van Heel is CEO of Omnicin Therapeutics, Dr. Herman Steen is the CBO and Prof. Oscar Kuipers the scientific advisor. The researchers have a patent on behalf of the University of Groningen. There is also support from the Netherlands Antibiotic Development Platform (NADP) and the NWO. Omnicin Therapeutics also offers a unique opportunity for current and future investors.