Procarta Biosystems Ltd is developing a new class of oligonucleotide antimicrobial agent to target bacteria that cause serious and life-threatening infection. Procarta Biosystems is a spin-out from the John Innes Centre which is developing a new generation of antibiotics.
Procarta's DNA-based approach is based on a rationally selected drug-development platform that can rapidly generate new therapeutic agents with a pre-determined spectrum of activity to deliver broad, mid or narrow spectrum agents. Their technology combines a pan-bacterial delivery agent with proprietary specific DNA-based antimicrobials that block expression of key bacterial genes.
Procarta's technology works differently to normal antibiotics. The company uses Oligonucleotide Transcription Factor Decoys (TFDs) which contain binding sites for essential bacterial transcription factors. When they are delivered into bacterial cells they inhibit these molecules and prevent the expression of genes the bacteria need to survive and cause infection.
Using proprietary nanoparticles, the short pieces of DNA are inserted into the infectious bacteria which affects stress response and kills the bacteria. Unlike many antibiotics Procarta's antibiotics work on both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Procarta's antibiotics are claimed to be less likely to lead to resistant bacteria as attempts to induce resistance in their lab have failed.
Initially, Procarta Biosystems are targeting Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). CREs are bacteria which are highly resistant to Carbapenems, strong antibiotics normally reserved for the most serious infections and they are an increasing problem in hospitals.
Procarta is also investigating the connection between a person's gut microbiome and a range of diseases such as obesity, Alzheimer's, depression and Crohn's disease. It aims to develop tailored treatments that can selectively suppress harmful bacteria in the gut while leaving normal, healthy bacteria unharmed. Flare-ups of Crohn's disease have been associated with overgrowth of one species of bacteria, Procarta has developed a novel agent that specifically removes this bacterium from the normal gut flora.
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