Funding over the next five years will initially be used for optimization of molecules against Gram-negative pathogens.

Trius Therapeutics obtained a $28 million five-year contract from the NIAID to develop  antibiotics directed against multiple gram-negative bacterial pathogens. The aim is to optimize the drugs for activity against relevant biodefense pathogens such as Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, and Burkholderia pseudomallei.

Trius will develop drugs targeting bacterial DNA gyrase and topoisomerase IV. The company will work with investigators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to identify and optimize lead molecules and then to test the compounds.

“Our structure-based drug design approach has already identified a number of promising lead molecules,” according to John Finn, Ph.D., principal investigator of the NIAID contract and CSO of Trius. “Under this contract, we will optimize these compounds for activity against a wide spectrum of key Gram-negative biodefense pathogens and along the way, we will likely discover compounds active against bacteria responsible for more common hospital infections for which there are few current treatment options.”

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