Arsanis has initiated a Phase II trial to test an antibody treatment to fight deadly S. aureus infections contracted by patients in ICU.
Two weeks ago, the world was taken aback by the news of a woman who died of an infection with a bacteria resistant to all 26 antibiotics available in the US. Companies like Arsanis in Vienna are already working hard to develop alternatives to antibiotics that overcome the huge challenges of multi-resistant superbugs. The biotech has now entered Phase II with an antibody combo to prevent and treat S. aureus infections in hospitals.
Its program ASN100 consists of two human monoclonal antibodies, ASN-1 and -2, that neutralize six cytotoxins produced by the bacteria responsible for the development of pneumonia. The new trial is testing this treatment in ICU patients with mechanical ventilators at high risk for S. aureus.
In addition, Arsanis is working on other 3 antibody programs against infections that are particularly severe or caused by multi-resistant pathogens.
Antibodies to treat infectious diseases are not something new. For example, AstraZeneca’s Synagis (palivizumab) has been around for almost 20 years. Although most companies have focused on the more popular approach of antibiotics so far, the number of new antibiotics reaching the market in the last decades is insufficient to counter the fast emergence of multi-resistant bacteria and alternative treatments are overdue.
Antibodies are not absolutely free from inducing resistance; pathogens can still mutate and alter the structure of the target. However, they do offer a better alternative for fighting infectious disease. Unlike antibiotics, Arsanis’ antibodies are selectively directed at specific pathogens. And unlike most therapeutic antibodies, those developed by Arsanis are designed to neutralize all relevant biological targets in pathogenesis rather than having a single molecular target.
If the Austrian biotech makes it to the market, its treatments might offer new hope to patients at high risk of contracting an infection for which no antibiotics can currently offer a solution.
All images from Arsanis