Start-up joins fight against antibiotic resistance

04 December, 2013

A start-up company will research new drugs that can be used to treat antibiotic bacterial infection.

UTS ithree institute disease research has led to the formation of a new company, Auspherix, that will explore the commercial potential of drugs to fight infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to currently available antibiotics.

The company has received a $1m investment from Australia's Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and will pursue development of new antibacterial drugs based on intellectual property arising from discoveries made by the institute's director, Professor Ian Charles and fellow researcher Dr Dagmar Alber.

Professor Charles welcomed the start-up financing support, saying the funding would allow for research advancements in managing a real human threat and one of the world's biggest public health challenges.

"We are seeing more and more cases of drug resistant bacteria around the world," Professor Charles said. "With the rise of resistant superbugs, we desperately need to find new ways to combat infectious diseases and I am hopeful that research from the ithree institute will make a contribution to that urgent quest."

The initial investment by the MRCF will be used to explore ways to improve the antibiotic activity of drugs that have been identified through a screening program undertaken at the ithree institute and to establish initial safety and efficacy data in vivo models.

This is the second start-up company to emerge from the ithree institute this year. In February, Helmedix was established to develop treatments for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.

Professor Attila Brungs, Deputy Vice Chancellor (research) said, "the discoveries emerging from the ithree institute and its success in securing start-up funding for two spin outs this year, demonstrates the practical and demand-driven applications of our research."

In July this year, Australia's chief scientist Professor Ian Chubb warned that antibiotic resistance had the potential to become one of the world's biggest public health challenges, requiring a serious response from scientists, industry and the community at large.

"Through the ithree institute, UTS is rising to this challenge," said Professor Brungs. "We have invested in world class scientists as well as state-of-the-art imaging, genomic, bioinformatics and proteomic facilities, wholly dedicated to the understanding and control of infectious diseases."