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Jun 11, 2012

Medina, Cubist Partner to Mine Natural Product Libraries for New Antibiotics

  • Spain’s Fundación Medina (Fundación Centro de Excelencia en Investigación de Medicamentos Innovadores en Andalucía) signed a contract research collaboration with Cubist Pharmaceuticals focused on the discovery of antibiotics from both parties’ natural product libraries. Medina is a nonprofit research organization established as a public-private partnership between Merck Sharp and Dohme in Spain, the Andalusian government, and the University of Granada.

    The organization claims to own one of the largest and most chemically diverse microbial natural product libraries, combined with specialist expertise in natural product microbiology, chemistry, and high-throughput screening. The library currently houses some 50,000 strains of filamentous fungi and 60,000 strains of filamentous and unicellular bacteria for the discovery of secondary metabolites.

    Medina is exploiting its library and expertise both through in-house drug discovery programs in infectious diseases, oncology, and rare diseases and through drug discovery research collaborations and preclinical drug profiling and toxicology services. The collaboration between Medina and Cubist aims to generate new lead antibacterial compounds as a complement to the latter’s existing drug discovery programs.

    “We are pleased to be able to partner with Fundación Medina as we continue to seek new drug candidates that have been generated from secondary metabolites and from compounds that come from natural products,” comments Ronald Farquhar, Cubist’s svp of discovery and pharmaceutical sciences. “Having access to Fundación Medina’s resources will greatly aid in our work to find new acute-care medicines to satisfy current unmet medical needs.”

    Acute care drug specialist Cubist has two products on the market. Cubicin® is the first lipopeptide antibiotic approved for treating complicated skin and skin structure infections and bacteremia caused by Gram-positive bacteria. Entereg® is a peripherally acting μ-opioid receptor antagonist that Cubist claims is the only approved therapy available for speeding the time to upper and lower gastrointestinal recovery following partial large or small bowel resection surgery with primary anastomosis. The firm separately has an agreement in place with Optimer Pharmaceuticals to co-promote Optimer's Dificid™ in the U.S. as a treatment for Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD).

    Cubist’s clinical pipeline is headed by CXA-201 (ceftolozane/tazobactam), which is in Phase III development for the treatment of complicated urinary tract and complicated intra-abdominal infections caused by multidrug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A Phase III program evaluating CXA-201 for the treatment of CDAD is planned to start this year. The drug is separately undergoing Phase I trials for the potential treatment of nosocomial pneumonia. Cubist is developing CXA-201 under an exclusive license agreement with Astellas Pharma.

    Cubist also expects to start Phase III studies during 2012 with its peripherally restricted opioid receptor antagonist CB-5945. The oral drug is in development for the treatment of opioid induced constipation (OIC) in patients with chronic noncancer pain. Last month the firm reported positive data from two Phase II studies that demonstrated the drug significantly improved the number of spontaneous bowel movements. 

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