Firm now has STTR awards to develop antibodies targeting MRSA and C. difficile virulence peptides.

Sorrento Therapeutics has been awarded a $600,000 Phase I small business technology transfer research (STTR) grant from NIAID to fund development of antibody therapeutics and vaccines against Clostridium difficile infections that disrupt the organism’s quorum sensing communication process. The grant will be split equally over two years and could lead to the award of a three-year, $3 million Phase II award, the firm states.  

Sorrento has an exclusive license to Scripps Research Institute technology that targets specific auto-inducing peptides (AIP) that are central pathogen virulence. The platform is being combined with the firm’s human antibody library platform for the development of anti-infective candidates.

Sorrento claims the Quorum Quenching (QQ) approach has two major features that distinguish it from other antibacterial approaches. Firstly, rather than attempting to directly eliminate infecting bacteria, the QQ approach is designed to modulate the global virulence of the invading pathogens, allowing the bacteria to be cleared by the host’s immune system.

Secondly, the species specific AIP targets are mutationally constrained, making them ideal targets for therapeutic intervention: although required for virulence, the AIPs are not essential for bacterial viability and growth, which means there is less selective pressure for the generation of resistance, the firm explains.

Sorrento’s lead QQ program, STI-001, is focused on developing fully human mAbs against MRSA. The project is also being funded by a $600,000 STTR Phase I grant from the NIAID. The second year’s tranche of $300,000 was received at the beginning of July.

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