The University of Queensland’s commercial vehicle UniQuest has granted a licence allowing Alterity Therapeutics (ASX: ATH) to use its zinc ionophore technology in combating superbugs.
UniQuest has given Alterity exclusive worldwide rights to use its zinc ionophore technology in developing and commercialising therapies that re-sensitise bacteria to antibiotics.
Once Alterity has begun receiving revenue from commercialising the technology, it will make milestone and royalty payments to UniQuest commensurate with academic licences.
Alterity will combine the PBT2 zinc ionophore technology with other zinc ionophores to treat multidrug resistant bacterial infections using commonly-used antibiotics.
PBT2 has already been found to break the antibiotic resistance of many critical superbugs and is covered by patents until 2038.
Recent research that was published in the high-impact journal Science Translational Medicine demonstrated PBT2 could reverse antibiotic resistance in animal sepsis models.
University of Queensland Prof Mark Walker said these research results show PBT2 and other zinc ionophores have the potential to restore efficacy across a range of antibiotics.
Additionally, research revealed superbugs that were exposed to PBT2 and antibiotics had a “very low propensity” to develop further resistance.
According to Alterity, this makes it “unlikely” resistance to the novel treatment will occur – paving the way for PBT2 to treat resistant superbugs without becoming part of the problem.
Antibiotic resistance mounting global problem
Alterity chairman and chief executive officer Geoffrey Kempler pointed out 700,000 people die annually from antibiotic resistant pathogens.
The World Health Organisation has declared antibiotic resistant bacteria a serious threat to global health.
PBT2 has been found to break the resistance of most of the critical pathogens on WHO’s list.
“The approach developed by our collaborators is novel and potentially revolutionary.”
“Existing antibiotics are losing the battle against these infections and science is struggling to keep up as pathogens continually adapt.”
“Because we can combine PBT2 with existing antibiotics, many of which are generic, this approach has strong commercial value to Alterity,” Mr Kempler said.
He added COVID-19 amplified this need because many secondary bacterial infections associated with the disease result in mortality.
“The need for effective antimicrobial regimens is very high,” he said.