Zurich/Allschwil BL – The University of Zurich and pharmaceutical company Polyphor are working together to develop a new class of antibiotics to treat infections with high unmet medical need. They have been awarded a grant for the project by Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency.

The University of Zurich and Basel-based pharmaceutical company Polyphor intend to develop a new class of antibiotics. This is an antibiotic against priority 1 Gram-negative bacteria. Oliver Zerbe, Chief Investigator of the project, explains in a press release that it can be used to treat infections with high unmet medical need.

The project is based on a new discovery by two professors at the University of Zurich relating to the antibiotic called thanatin. They found that thanatin disrupts the transport of lipopolysaccharide molecules to the outer membrane – an unprecedented mechanism of action. Lipopolysaccharide molecules are prevented from reaching their destination and so the outer membrane cannot be built, which is fatal for the bacteria.

Polyphor is contributing its macrocycle platform to the partnership. With this, the company has already discovered a new class of antibiotics against Gram-negative bacteria with a novel mode of action.

The collaborative project between the University of Zurich and Polyphor is being funded by a grant from Innosuisse. The press release outlines that this will finance the salaries and material costs of the University of Zurich. Polyphor is matching this amount in an additional contribution, “of which a substantial part will be in kind”.

Innosuisse is the Swiss Innovation Agency and supports projects carried out by companies in collaboration with research institutions.

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