GlaxoSmithKline has formed a partnership with US biotech Fimbrion Therapeutics to develop a first-in-class small molecule drug for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The joint project will see Fimbrion and the Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) team at GSK focus on the preclinical development of a class of mannose-containing small molecule compounds called mannosides.

Researchers will explore whether mannosides may be able to treat and prevent UTIs without inducing antibiotic resistance, by simply preventing the bacteria from being able to stick to the walls of the bladder thus allowing the body to naturally eliminate the infection.

Urinary tract infections are the third leading indication for antibiotic therapy and where multidrug-resistant bacteria are becoming increasingly common, said Fimbrion in a press release, highlighting the unmet medical need in the area.

"We are excited for this strategic relationship and partnership with GSK enabling the development of our first drug candidate. This and other types of antibiotic-sparing therapeutics will be essential to prevent and treat increasingly prevalent infectious disease syndromes caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens," said Dr Hultgren, president of Fimbrion, commenting on the collaboration.

The deal is also the first between a start-up biotech and GSK's DPAc, which was established to bring together researchers at the firm and academia "to establish truly integrated partnerships that can translate innovative research into medicines that benefit patients".