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GEN News Highlights : Aug 31, 2010

Achaogen Wins $64M BARDA Contract to Develop Antibiotic for Biothreats

Lead compound, ACHN-490, will be evaluated against bubonic plague.

Antibiotics firm Achaogen has been awarded a potentially $64 million U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) contract to develop its lead clinical-stage antibiotic candidate ACHN-490 as a treatment for biothreat agents including the bubonic plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis and Francisella tularensis, which causes tularemia. BARDA's remit falls within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for the Preparedness and Response.

The contract includes $27 million in committed funding for the first two years, and subsequent option periods that, if completed, would take the total value of the award up to $64.5 million. Achaogen says the grant is the first to be awarded from BARDA's broad-spectrum antimicrobial initiative.

Achaogen is focused on the discovery and development of broad-spectrum antibiotics to treat multi-drug resistant bacterial infections. ACHN-490 is a next-generation aminoglycoside currently undergoing Phase II trials for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections and acute pyelonephritis. Achaogen says it is also considering evaluating the drug for other indications including hospital-acquired pneumonia, ventilator-associated pneumonia, complicated intra-abdominal infections, and bloodstream infections.

The firm claims its aminoglycoside compounds are designed to overcome known resistance mechanisms to existing aminoglycoside antibiotics. ACHN-490 is chemically engineered to retain activity against organisms resistant to carbeapenems, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, and legacy aminoglycosides.

The firm claims the BARDA contract will provide valuable data to support its development of ACHN-490 for the nonbiothreat indications. Achaogen raised $56 million in May through the completion of Series C round of financing.