Botanix Pharmaceuticals and University of Queensland to develop cannabidiol treatment for superbugs

Botanix Pharmaceuticals ASX BOT University of Queensland cannabidiol treatment superbugs

Medical dermatology company Botanix Pharmaceuticals (ASX: BOT) is moving ahead with developing its BTX 1801 pipeline product, a cannabidiol-based treatment for various dermatological conditions.

BTX 1801 is a novel antimicrobial product with the potential to address unmet needs in serious skin infections. Development so far has been positive with Botanix reporting that this particular branch of its overall product pipeline offers “significant market opportunities”.

Botanix has said it signed a research agreement with The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) as part of a research collaboration effort connected to the ‘Innovation Connections Grant’ awarded to Botanix and UQ by the Federal Government’s department of AusIndustry.

The IMB is a multidisciplinary life sciences research institute with over 500 full-time scientists working on various projects to drive discoveries in genome sequencing, drug design and disease discovery application. Its research is focused on superbugs, pain, heart disease, inflammation, solar biotechnology and the “genomics-disease interplay”.

Commencing development

Botanix and UQ will investigate the antimicrobial activity of BTX 1801, further explore the “antimicrobial activity of cannabidiol” and evaluate Botanix’ Permetrex skin delivery technology.

The research collaboration will include an assessment of the impact of BTX 1801 against a diverse panel of antibiotic-resistant organisms and gauge its impact on more than 100 clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

According to scientists, Staphylococcus aureus is a common cause of skin infections, such as acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI). However, data from the pre-clinical testing indicated Permetrex “improves the killing power of cannabidiol, achieving close to 100% bacteria-killing effect”, and is effective on the most common skin infection bacteria – otherwise known as MRSA.

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that commonly lives on the skin. It is often referred to as “staph” or “golden staph”. When staph becomes resistant to commonly used antibiotics (meaning the antibiotics are no longer effective) it is called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

MRSA has secured an infamous reputation as a “superbug” that remains resistant to antibiotics and synthetic treatments. Cannabinoid-based treatments such as BTX 1801 could potentially offer a more effective way of neutralising infections.

In the US alone, more than 3 million patients are hospitalised each year, which in combination with outpatients, leads to an estimated 30 million days of treatment and comprises a market worth approximately US$10 billion.

On a broader basis, cannabidiol has the potential to offer even further benefits and could potentially help to resolve severe dermatological conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

“We are pleased to be working in partnership with Professor Matt Cooper and Dr Mark Blaskovich’s team at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB). Prof Cooper and Dr Blaskovich are leading experts in the field of antimicrobial drug discovery and development. Their extensive expertise in the mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, combined with their state-of-the-art research facilities and library of antimicrobial resistant microorganisms will help facilitate the rapid advancement of BTX 1801 into clinical trials,” said Matt Callahan, founder and executive director of Botanix.

“We welcome this opportunity to work in collaboration with Botanix to investigate the antimicrobial properties of BTX 1801. Antibiotic resistance is a significant global concern and we are excited about the potential prospects of BTX 1801 in this field. The partnership is also testament to the university engaging with industry to embed research discovery into the problem-solving process, so together we can bring solutions to market more quickly and with greater impact,” said Dr Mark Blaskovich, principal investigator and program coordinator of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience.