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PharmaCytics and Madam Therapeutics announce collaboration to develop a new class of oral anti-biotics

Amsterdam, November 5th. Today, the 2 Dutch biotech companies PharmaCytics and Madam Therapeutics have announced that they will develop a new class of antibiotics that do not need to be injected, but can be taken as a pill. Madam Therapeutics develops the new antibiotics based on their SAAP platform, PharmaCytics provides the technology to administer in pill form.

Resistance to antibiotics is an increasing problem worldwide. In the US, someone gets a bacterial or fungal infection that is resistant to antibiotics every 11 seconds and someone dies from it every 15 minutes, the CDC reports. In Europe, 33,000 people die every year from an infection that can no longer be treated. A urinary tract infection with a resistant bacterium can sometimes be fatal.

The need for new antibiotics is therefore great. Madam Therapeutics specializes in the development of a new generation of antibiotics, the so-called SAAPs. SAAPs stands for Synthetic Antimicrobial and Antibiofilm Peptides. Remko van Leeuwen, CEO of the company: “We develop peptides, small molecules, which work very differently from current antibiotics. Most antibiotics work quite slowly, but our SAAPs pierce a hole in the bacteria from the outside, causing it to drain and die. Compare it with an inflated balloon that is punctured. We have a whole arsenal of peptides that work this way. Because it is so fast, bacteria have little or no chance of developing resistance to this new generation of antibiotics. ”

The problem faced by Madam Therapeutics and other manufacturers of these new antibiotics is the method of administration. Peptides are small molecules that are broken down quickly when they enter the body. They will not survive a stay in the stomach anyway. Hence, such antibiotics almost always have to be injected, which greatly limits their use. This is where the expertise of PharmaCytics comes into play. The company has developed the Nutrient Drug Conjugate technology (NDCt), which allows them to disguise all kinds of medicines as food. They are now also going to do this with the peptides with an antimicrobial effect.

Han van ‘t Klooster, CEO of PharmaCytics: “Our technique links a food group to the peptides, causing the digestive tract to think it is related to nutrients. Due to this disguise, they are excellently absorbed by the intestines into the bloodstream. The greater uptake – bioavailability – may even allow for a lower dosage. Once in the bloodstream, the link is broken and the peptides can exert their antibacterial effect. In short, with our technique we go from injection to pill ”.

There is a great need for new, powerful antibiotics in pill form with less risk of resistance. Both PharmaCytics and Madam Therapeutics emphasize the importance of this for the patient. Such drugs can make a major contribution to reducing the number of deaths and the enormous health damage caused by antibiotic resistance.  The collaboration between the two innovative Dutch biotech companies has been facilitated by PharmTide Invest.

An interview (in Dutch) with Han van ‘t Klooster with Dutch News Radio Station BNR can be found via this link

Remko van Leeuwen speaker at VIG Talk on the broken business model for antibiotics @ Dutch Association of Innovative Medicines

Remko van Leeuwen, founder and CEO of Madam Therapeutics, is the second speaker at the VIG Talk on October 29.

VIG (“Vereniging Innovatieve Geneesmiddelen” in Dutch) is the Association of Innovative Medicines and represents the pharmaceutical sector in the Netherlands. The aim of the Association is to promote the availability of new medicines for patients, to create a favorable research climate and to promote the value of the innovative medicine.

This edition of the VIG Talk is all about antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In his presentation, Van Leeuwen focuses on new business models.

On the Website of VIG a short announcement has been published. They describe that van Leeuwen founded Madam Therapeutics in 2011 . Van Leeuwen is also a board member of the BEAM Alliance . This network unites some 70 European small and medium-sized companies that focus on the development of new antibiotics.

Short payback period

‘The traditional business model for drug development does not work well for antibiotics,’ says Van Leeuwen in the item on the VIG website. ‘That is why you now see that the development of new antibiotics is lagging far behind the growing need.’ With antibiotics, finances work fundamentally differently than with drugs for cancer, for example, he explains.
‘The investments are about the same as with many other medicines. Antibiotics also often involve a development and testing period of about ten years, with exactly the same price tag as a medicine for rheumatism or cancer, for example. The big difference is that the payback time for antibiotics is much shorter. After a few years, growing resistance can already occur. Then you have to develop something new again. And it is precisely to prevent this resistance that doctors use new antibiotics sparingly. While that is sensible from a public health perspective, it obviously kills your business model completely. ‘

Netflix model

There are various new business models that offer opportunities, says Van Leeuwen.
The most interesting is perhaps the Netflix model. This assumes that hospitals purchase a subscription. They can then use unlimited antibiotics. Of course you do not want the use to be unlimited or excessive, but the crux is that you thereby separate the compensation from the use volume. With antibiotics, it is difficult to predict how many people will use them and when. Sometimes it lies unused on the shelf for years, and you suddenly need it urgently. ‘


Other models are also conceivable, says Van Leeuwen. He mentions a system in which the price of an antibiotic is linked to the health benefits it delivers. It is also conceivable that you work with an advanced purchase guarantee , a model in which the government is guaranteed to purchase a certain amount of the new antibiotic. That gives the developer the certainty that he will at least earn back a certain part of his investment. ‘

European Commission publishes our screening-project for peptides to treat COVID-19 and bacterial infections for increased visibility to global investors

In a united spirit to COVID-19 response and to support the European recovery, the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) and the Commission’s Research Directorate-General (RTD) have again put together their forces and acted as a team to acknowledge COVID-19 projects as a core area of interest for todays’ EU needs.

Various projects have already been selected outstanding projects to tackle the Corona virus and awarded a dedicated Covid-19 certificate.

Madam Therapeutics was one of the limited number of companies that was selected in this competition. The “Turn-The_Tide” project was published on the investment portal

The promoters of these projects have been invited to submit their project for publication on the EIPP to boost their visibility to investors.

The EIPP developed a special Covid-19 tag for these projects to reach out and attract more investors worldwide.

Madam Therapeutics is screening it’s peptide family for activity against the corona virus. We anticipate that this new project is matching the investors’ interests, and will develop into one of our new success stories!

Pharma companies are creating a new $1 billion fund to acquire or invest in small antibiotic companies

Big Pharma exited from the antibiotics space one by one. And now they may be coming back together.

Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Merck KGaA and the American Merck — one of the last giants standing — are teaming up to create a $1 billion for-profit venture to bet on small biotechs developing mid-stage antibiotics, Ed Silverman reported for STAT.

Government officials from Germany, Sweden, France and the UK, as well as representatives from Wellcome Trust and Pew Charitable Trusts, will join the companies to announce the initiative on July 9, Silverman wrote. The World Health Organization and the European Investment Bank are also involved in what is being billed as a new solution to the “antibiotic innovation challenge.”

As concerns about antibiotic resistance loom ever larger, though, the effort itself may count. “The thinking is that, ideally, if they put money in [the fund], this will serve them in the long run, but also make them look good,” reads a key quote. “They got pretty bad press when they walked out on antibiotics.”

Madam Therapeutics welcomes this very important initiative, and believes this is another sign that pharma and investors are getting back in the field.

Source: Endpointsnews

German scientist warns: ‘the danger of infectious diseases is completely underestimated ‘

German archeo-geneticist Johannes Krause has published a new book entitled “De reis van onze genen” (The journey of our genes). Krause conducts DNA research into infectious diseases that have plagued humanity for thousands of years. If we don’t take it more seriously, he says corona is just the beginning: leprosy, tuberculosis and syphilis are ready for a comeback.

Krause usually looks back to the past, sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of years ago. Armed with revolutionary technology, he deciphers genetic  material from ancient bones, skulls and teeth. From that DNA he derives messages from the past. For example, how our distant ancestors spread across the continents. And what diseases they carried with them.

And how those diseases adapted to their hosts, and vice versa. “We used to try to reconstruct prehistory with modern data,” says Krause in an interview in Dutch newspaper Financiele Dagblad.

In his book he warns about the danger of bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy, cholera and even plague. They have been quiet for more than a hundred years, but they have certainly not been defeated, says Krause.

“If we are not careful, they will soon be able to return to prosperous parts of the world. The first signs are already there….. “


Remko van Leeuwen interviewed for Dutch TV show “Eén Vandaag” on the problems of start-ups during corona times

Dutch TV news show “Eén Vandaag” viewed by around 1 million people today highlighted the financial challenges of Dutch start-ups during corona times. Remko van Leeuwen is one the CEOs that was interviewed for the program.

During the interview (in Dutch, no subtitles), Remko van Leeuwen talks about the predictability of the next public health crisis: antibiotic resistance. He explained that he and his colleagues have spent the past 9 years developing a new antibiotic. “Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from antibiotic resistance worldwide. If the corona crisis has shown anything, it is that we have been too late to intervene. That is why it is so important to look ahead and start developing new antibiotics now” he explains in the interview. “New investments in the company are needed but that because of the corona outbreak, no one dared to invest”.

Because start-ups often cannot use regular government support to deal with the crisis, the Corona Bridging Loan (COL) from the Dutch government has been set up specifically for this sector. It is a pot of 300 million euros. Entrepreneurs can submit an application to Regional Development Companies (ROMs), which implement this scheme at the request of the cabinet. Our application was rejected. And we are not the only one who got a rejection, Remko explains during the interview.

“It has always been difficult to find investors for the development of new antibiotics”, says Remko van Leeuwen during the interview. “That was also the case for corona. New drugs often remain on the shelf for a long time because doctors want to avoid frequent use and the possible resistance.

But during the corona outbreak, antibiotics are widely used to fight secondary infections. This has increased concerns about resistance, says Van Leeuwen. He thinks that it was not the right choice from the Dutch government not to strengthen our company with an emergency loan. “Yes, maybe I will only make a profit in 5 or 6 years. But that’s how it works, especially in bioscience.”

Along with the other people that are interviewed, Remko therefore makes a plea for more government support to guide start-ups like Madam Therapeutics through the corona crisis.

Antibiotic resistance may rise after COVID-19, as doctors struggle to treat secondary infections. New antibiotics are urgently needed, but development is falling behind.

Mother wearing a green homemade protective face mask and putting one to her daughter at home during the coronavirus Covid-19.

As the Covid-19 pandemic moves across the world, it may drag a second slow-motion pandemic behind it. Even though Covid-19 is a viral illness not affected by antibiotics, early data from hospitals shows that very high proportions of patients—more than 90 percent in some cohorts—are being treated with those drugs to cure or protect against secondary infections during respiratory illnesses or hospitalization. That’s being accompanied by an unmeasured but possibly huge number of people taking antibiotics on their own.

Those parallel phenomena mean that Covid-19 could whomp up antibiotic resistance, pathogens’ adaptive ability to defend themselves against drugs intended to kill them. Resistance is already a crisis: It causes an estimated 700,000 deaths around the world each year, almost four times the death toll from the novel coronavirus so far. Diminishing the power of antibiotics could undermine an important part of the medical response to Covid-19.

“In the context of Covid-19, antibiotics should be considered as important as protective gowns or facemasks,” says Adam Roberts, a microbiologist and antibiotic discoverer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in an interview with WIRED magazine. “We do not expect healthcare workers to go into hospital situations without the correct protective equipment. Nor should we expect clinics to do their job without the appropriate antibiotics. It is part of our defense for any pandemic situation.”

Madam Therapeutics endorses this view, and therefore works in parallel on the development of new antibiotics, as well as new treatment for the corona virus, both based on it’s peptide based antimicrobial platform.

Source: WIRED magazine

Why Madam Therapeutics focuses on developing its SAAPs as treatment for both the Corona virus as well as superbugs during the COVID-19 crisis

Young woman wearing protective face mask, she sitting in bus transportation in the city.

We’re all focused on the coronavirus, but there’s another, major threat still lurking: superbugs. And the pandemic is a stark reminder of the need to be prepared for public health crises, particularly the growing danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, says Pew in new analysis

Fact: We need new antibiotics. Superbugs killed 160,000 Americans in 2010—and unless we take action, they’re expected to kill 10 million people per year by 2050.

But there aren’t enough antibiotics in the development pipeline. “According to Pew’s most recent assessment of the antibiotic pipeline, far too few drugs are in development with even the potential to treat the most dangerous superbugs,” writes Pew

Why are we talking about antibiotics in the context of a virus? “Antibiotics are needed to protect COVID-19 patients who have weakened immune systems (and who may be on ventilators) and are therefore at risk for secondary bacterial infections. Likewise, antibiotics are also critical for patients fighting cancer, receiving dialysis, undergoing surgery, and requiring countless other medical treatments and procedures,” Pew explains.

This is why Madam Therapeutics is developing peptides from it’s SAAP both as antiviral compounds targeted to fight COVID-19, as well as the secondary bacterial infections.

New York Times: The Ganges River in India Brims With Dangerous Bacteria

The Ganges river in India is living proof that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are almost everywhere. The river offers powerful insight into the prevalence and spread of drug-resistant infections, one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Its waters provide clues to how these pathogens find their way into our ecosystem.

According to the New York Times, annual tests by scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology show that antibiotic-resistant bacteria appear while the river is still flowing through the narrow gorges of the Himalayan foothills, hundreds of miles before it encounters any of the usual suspects that would pollute its waters with resistant germs.

Other studies confirm the danger. An article in Lancet Infectious Diseases found that about 57 percent of infections in India with Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common bacterium, were carbapenem-resistant.

More reading: and

CDC report: every 15 minutes someone in the USA dies of a drug-resistant superbug

Antimicrobial resistance rates are rising with an alarming rate.

Every 15 minutes, someone in the United States now dies of a superbug that has learned to outsmart even our most sophisticated antibiotics, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.That’s about 35,000 deaths each year from drug-resistant infections, according to the landmark report. This is twice the number of deaths since 2013.

People in the United States are misusing antibiotics, study says. The report places five drug-resistant superbugs on the CDC’s “urgent threat” list — two more germs than were on the CDC’s list in 2013, the last time the agency issued a report on antibiotic resistance.

Companies like Madam Therapeutics are developing solutions that could help these patients, but we need to be allowed to use these drugs and get reimbursed appropriately, as otherwise development cannot be paid.