NIH Awards Cidara and Rutgers University $5.5 Million to Fight Multidrug-Resistant Infections

The 5-year partnership grant is to support the development of novel immunotherapy agents that target multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections.

The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health has awarded Cidara Therapeutics, Inc, and Rutgers University a 5-year, $5.5 million grant to fund continued research and development of Cidara’s Cloudbreak antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) platform to identify novel immunotherapy agents for the treatment and prevention of serious and life-threatening multidrug-resistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacterial infections in high-risk patient populations, according to a press release from the clinical-stage biotech company.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.7 million health care-associated infections (HAIs) occur each year; about half of these infections are caused by Gram-negative pathogens. These pathogens are the primary cause of infections in intensive care units as well. The high mortality rate of these infections leads to almost 100,000 deaths each year. MDR Gram-negative infections have an even higher mortality rate and increased length-of-stay for those patients who are infected, particularly in those who are already at high-risk of infection. These somber facts make the development of treatments against these infections that much more imperative.

The Cloudbreak ADC platform, according to the news release, “is a fundamentally new approach for the treatment of infectious disease that, in a single molecule, pairs potent antimicrobials with agents that redirect the immune system to destroy fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens.”

Preclinical development activities will be led by David S Perlin, PhD, executive director, and professor, at the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) of New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University, in Newark, New Jersey. Speaking on the significance of this research in the news release, Dr Perlin stated, “Preliminary studies have identified promising ADCs that possess both intrinsic and immune-mediated bactericidal activity against clinically important Gram-negative pathogens including MDR isolates. I believe that a novel ADC agent could be a much-needed and welcome addition to the Gram-negative therapeutic arsenal. I look forward to advancing Cidara’s ADC Cloudbreak program as part of this NIH/NIAID partnership grant.”

Cidara is also developing the rezafungin a novel anti-infective, immunotherapy combination to fight Candida infections. Phase 1 and 2 trials of the drug have yielded positive results.