Following up on a November 2012 announcement on the discovery of a new class of antibiotics, Galapagos has been awarded a €2.7 million grant (approximately $3.5 million) from the Flemish agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) to discover new antibiotic treatments.

A number of bacteria have become resistant to existing antibiotics. Last year, Galapagos reported the selection of a candidate drug targeting DNA pol III alpha (DnaE) which shows strong activity against all tested drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, including the hospital bacterium MRSA. In this three-year, IWT-funded project, Galapagos will exploit its know-how in DnaE to discover new antibiotic treatments against additional bacterial species. Galapagos will collaborate on this project with the research groups of Professor Johan Vander Eycken, Ph.D., at Ghent University and Professor Wim Versées, Ph.D., from the Free University Brussels.

This antibacterial program focuses on blocking the activity of DnaE, a protein in bacteria that is essential for carrying out their own reproduction. DnaE is ubiquitous and an essential protein in both Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria, making it a desirable target for antibacterial therapy. Molecules active against the DnaE of other individual species will be sought, prioritizing Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococcus faecium which are amongst those nominated by infectious disease specialists as posing the most urgent medical need. Upon project completion, Galapagos aims to generate at least one novel candidate antibacterial drug.

“With our CAM-1 candidate drug we are already a step closer to a solution to MRSA infections, but there is still a need for medicines against other resistant bacteria,” said Piet Wigerinck, Ph.D., CSO of Galapagos. “With this grant, we can support the search for more novel inhibitors of the antibacterial target DNA pol III alpha to fight against these difficult-to-treat bacterial species.”

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