The lack of novel antibiotics is significantly compromising the survival and recovery of patients suffering from these infections, as well as our ability to fight simple bacterial infections in the future.
Between 1940 and 1962, more than 20 new classes of antibiotics were approved and marketed. Since then, some new molecules, but belonging only to two new classes, have reached the market. Now, not enough analogues are reaching the market to keep up with antibiotic resistance. Therefore there is a constant need to develop new agents to keep up with the acquisition of resistance among pathogenic bacteria. Antimicrobials are vital for reducing the risk of complications in relation to complex medical interventions as well as to reduce spread of (multi-drug) resistant bacterial strains.
There are various reasons why the development of new antibiotics has failed in the last decades. While some argue that the pharmaceutical industry is only interested in developing drugs for chronic diseases, we see that the major hurdle is a simple intrinsic problem: the ‘low-hanging fruits’ have simply been plucked. Drug screens for new antibiotics tend to re-discover the same lead compounds or with minor modifications towards approved drugs, to which bacteria can be resistant already. In general, discovery and development of antibiotics has become scientifically more complex, more expensive, and more time consuming over time, whereas the new compounds do not reach the market once they are approved because of drug-sparing regimens.
If one could propose a completely new class of antimicrobial compounds, this problem would be circumvented, thus creating very significant added value, both economic as well as societal, that others cannot easily copy. Madam Therapeutics and researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam have identified such new, promising class of compounds in the form of Synthetic Anti-microbial and Anti-Biofilm peptides (SAAPs)