Achaogen in San Francisco, CA is working on “preclinical development of novel therapeutics that reduce the virulence of, and inhibit resistance in, Class A Bacterial Pathogens.” Achaogen closed a $26 million round of venture financing in October 2006, and they had raised $103 million in equity by March 2011. Their approach focuses on small molecules that inhibit the emergence of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Initial efforts had the goal of making the bacteria susceptible to existing fluoroquinolones, and potentially to other classes of antibacterial drugs.
So, just what are “Class A bacterial pathogens?” You certainly know some of them by name.
Class A Bacterial Pathogens
The US Center for Disease Control defines them as high-priority agents that could pose a risk to national security because they:
* Can be easily disseminated or transmitted from person to person;
* Result in high mortality rates and have the potential for major public health impact;
* Might cause public panic and social disruption; and
* Require special action for public health preparedness.
As outlined on the CDC website, these include:
* Anthrax (Bacillus anthracis)
* Botulism (Clostridium botulinum toxin)
* Plague (Bubonic et. al. – Yersinia pestis)
* Tularemia (Francisella tularensis)
It also includes smallpox virus, viral hemorrhagic fevers (filoviruses e.g., Ebola, Marburg) and arenaviruses (e.g., Lassa, Machupo), but this contract specifies Class A bacterial agents. We’ve also covered some of the research approaches being funded re: viral hemorrhagic fevers.
Other disease classification systems have been proposed, which may offer medical utility as the ability to engineer agents becomes more broadly disseminated on a global basis. The CDC’s classification is designed to serve more of a public threat-level function, which is a different purpose. At some point, however, a fusion of these 2 kinds of classification systems to produce ratings like “Classtype A3 viral agent” may become useful.
Contracts and Key Events
Unless otherwise noted, The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, VA issues all contracts.
Sept 23/11: Achaogen, Inc. in South San Francisco, CA receives an $8.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to research novel broad spectrum therapeutics against gram-negative bacterial threat agents, for the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s R&D enteprise.
Work will be performed at South San Francisco, CA, and is expected to be completed June 2012. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Fort Belvoir, VA (HDTRA1-07-C-0079).
March 10/11: Achaogen ranks 21st on the Wall St. Journal’s “Top 50 Venture-Backed Companies.”
June 20/07: Achaogen in San Francisco, CA won an $18.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to Perform Research on Novel Broad-Spectrum Therapeutics Against Gram-Negative Bacterial Threat Agents. Work will be performed in San Francisco, CA (68.50%), Menlo Park, CA (15.25%), Detroit, MI (8.35%), Baltimore, MD (5.58%), and Frederick, MD (2.32%), and is expected to be complete by June 14, 2011. Bids were solicited via the World Wide Web on Dec 1/06, and 50 bids were received (HDTRA1-07-C-0079).
Oct 12/06: Achaogen in San Francisco, CA won a $24.6 million cost-reimbursement contract for preclinical development of novel broad-spectrum small-molecule therapeutics that reduce the virulence of, and inhibit resistance in, Class A Bacterial Pathogens. The first year of the agreement is fully funded, and the intent is to have Achaogen pursue subsequent preclinical development activities, culminating in an IND filing with the FDA. See also Achaogen release [PDF]
Work on this contract will be performed in San Francisco, CA and is expected to be complete by Oct. 5, 2010. Bids were solicited online on Oct 31/05, and 130 bids were received by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Fort Belvoir, VA (HDTRA1-06-C-0030).