Basilea starts early-stage study with Gram-negative antibiotic

ZURICH, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 2:57am EDT

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ZURICH, June 12 (Reuters) - Swiss biotech company Basilea said it had started an early-stage clinical study of an antibiotic to treat infections with multi-drug resistant Gram-negative bacteria in combination with another drug.

The Basel-based company is investigating the safety and tolerability of BAL30072 in a Phase I study in combination with meropenem, an antibiotic of the carbapenem class. Infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria account for about one third of all hospital-acquired infections.

Experts have warned that new treatments are needed to prevent superbugs resistant to even the most powerful drugs on offer from undermining modern medicine.

Over the past decade Big Pharma has gradually withdrawn from antibiotics research, creating a gap for smaller companies such as Basilea, Cubist Pharmaceuticals and the Medicines Company to take the lead in the field.

Basilea has received funding worth up to $89 million for the development of BAL30072 from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for developing countermeasures against public health emergencies. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by David Holmes)

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