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19 February, 2019 - 09:22 By Kate Sweeney

Bicycle wins almost £500k to tackle antimicrobial resistance in humans

Bicycle Therapeutics, a Cambridge UK biotech pioneering a new class of therapeutics based on its proprietary bicyclic peptide product platform, has been wheeled into the race to find novel strategies targeting antimicrobial resistance in humans.

The business has been awarded a £496k ($640k) contract from the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the Small Business Research Initiative.

SBRI Healthcare is an initiative to identify new ideas and technologies addressing future challenges to the UK’s National Health Service.

Under the contract, Bicycle will identify Bicycle™ inhibitors to a range of Penicillin Binding Proteins (PBPs) from pathogens of significant medical concern and investigate their antimicrobial activity.

Bicycle’s research proposal was submitted in response to a competitive call for novel strategies targeting antimicrobial resistance in humans. Since 2009, Bicycle Therapeutics has addressed more than 90 drug targets with an 80 per cent success rate, leading to two ongoing clinical programs, including its lead program BT1718 which is in Phase I/IIa for oncology.

Under this new award, Bicycle will now adapt its ultra-high throughput proprietary phage screening platforms to screen targets to discover novel inhibitors of PBPs, key drug targets that catalyse bacterial cell wall biosynthesis.

Bicycle will target the PBPs of key bacterial pathogens classified by the World Health Organization as either “critical” or “high” threats and which present a significant healthcare concern for UK hospitals. 

The work will be led by Dr Mike Dawson, an industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience in infectious disease drug discovery and development.

Kevin Lee, CEO of Bicycle Therapeutics said: “Bicycle’s unique and versatile technology is well-suited to creating a new class of antibacterial agents to address widespread antibiotic resistance and we are honoured to receive this funding from SBRI Healthcare.

“The Department of Health and Social Care’s recent announcement of a five-year plan to target antimicrobial resistance, along with its commitment to trial reimbursement mechanisms that are decoupled from antibiotic sales, marks a sea change in incentives for companies like ours with the technology to address antibiotic resistance. Patients worldwide will benefit from a more robust market for antimicrobials.”

The company’s unique intellectual property is based on the work initiated at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge by the scientific founders of the company, Sir Greg Winter, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his pioneering work in phage display of peptides and antibodies, and Professor Christian Heinis. 

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Sir Greg Winter

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