President and CEO, PhageTech
Joan Kureczka/ Ellen Martin
Company Screening for Drugs that Mimic Phage Protein's Ability to Block DNA Replication
MONTREAL, QUEBEC (June 19, 2002): PhageTech, a privately held antibiotic discovery company, today announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued U.S. Patent No. 6,376,652, entitled "Compositions and Methods Involving an Essential Staphylococcus aureus Gene and its Encoded Protein." This patent covers newly identified nucleic acid sequences and polypeptides of a S. aureus DnaI-related protein, and the interaction between that bacterial protein and a growth-inhibitory protein produced by S. aureus bacteriophage 77. The patent also covers the use of this molecular interaction as the basis of an assay for screening new classes of antibiotic drugs with a novel mechanism of action against S. aureus.
"Bacteriophages are viruses that prey upon bacteria, killing them or inhibiting their growth," said Dalal Manoli, president and chief executive officer of PhageTech. "By identifying and exploiting the specific molecular targets within bacteria that these phages attack, we hope to discover and develop novel classes of small molecule antibiotics that mimic the phages in their antibacterial activity."
Ms. Manoli continued, "This patent covers the first novel and proprietary target that we have identified and fully validated as critical to DNA replication in S. aureus from our world-leading effort in phage genomics. We are now engaged in an active drug screening program to identify small molecule drugs against this target. New classes of antimicrobial drugs against S. aureus are sorely needed, due to this organism's growing resistance to existing antibiotics."
Staphylococcus aureus is the leading cause of hospital-acquired infections and community-acquired staph infections are also a growing concern. According to the National Institutes of Health, hospitals and other healthcare settings worldwide face unprecedented crises from the rapid emergence and dissemination of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Strains of drug-resistant S. aureus are found in most hospitals, leaving vancomycin as the antibiotic of last resort for treating patients infected with these organisms. Recently, strains of S. aureus resistant to vancomycin have begun appearing globally, underscoring the need for new antibiotics against this organism.
Phages have co-evolved with bacteria over billions of years, developing a number of effective strategies to propagate themselves and kill their bacterial hosts. The molecular targets that phages attack are automatically validated as important to bacterial function, making them excellent drug targets for the discovery of new antibiotics.
PhageTech, founded in 1997, is focused on the discovery and development of new classes of antibiotic drugs based on its world-leading efforts in phage genomics. By unraveling the genetic code of phages, or bacterial viruses, PhageTech identifies antimicrobial proteins used by the phages to kill or stop the replication of bacteria, as well as the specific bacterial targets with which those proteins interact. The company then screens these bacterial targets to identify novel small molecule drugs that mimic the phage proteins' bactericidal effects. PhageTech is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. For more information on PhageTech, please contact Ms. Dalal Manoli, president and CEO at (514) 282-0990.