Argenta, the UK affiliate of Belgium’s Galapagos that offers integrated drug-discovery services to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, has signed a collaboration agreement focused on novel antibacterial agents with ANTABIO, a biopharmaceutical start-up based in Labège, France.

Under the collaboration, which is funded by a Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery award, Argenta will provide medicinal chemistry, computer-aided drug design and ADME/PK (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion/pharmacokinetic) services, along with its integrated drug discovery expertise, to help ANTABIO identify novel anti-bacterial agents and a development candidate that can be moved into clinical trials.

ANTABIO is working on first-in-class, small-molecule compounds offering a “synergistic solution” to the current dearth of new antibacterial agents that can manage drug-resistant infections.

In particular, the company is looking at new drugs that will enable existing antibiotics to regain their activity against multi- or pan-drug resistant Gram-negative pathogens such as NDM-1 bacteria.

Hospital-acquired infections

Between 5% and 10% of hospital patients in the US and Europe develop hospital-acquired infections, the new partners noted.

The consequences are up to 75,000 deaths per year, 2.5 million additional hospital days due to drug-resistant bacterial infections, and an average extra cost of €1.5 billion to healthcare systems.

“There is an urgent need for new anti-bacterial drugs and we look forward to working with ANTABIO to progress their compounds rapidly towards pre-clinical candidate nomination,” commented Dr John Montana, managing director of Argenta.

Founded in 2000 and based in Harlow, UK, Argenta offers a comprehensive range of discovery services, from target validation through to proof of concept, in multiple disease areas including respiratory, oncology, pain and inflammatory conditions. It was acquired by Galapagos in February 2010.