Micreos, a Dutch biotech company has been a pioneer in the field of phage technology and the first to bring an FDA GRAS approved (Generally Recognized as Safe) phage product LISTEX – a culture used as a processing aid in food product production. It is developing a new antibacterial platform technology set to replace antibiotics in many areas. Application areas include human health (i.e. MRSA), food safety (Listeria, Salmonella), animal health and agriculture. Micreos recently announced development of a new drug as a replacement to antibiotics. The result of a trial conducted showed the treatment was effective in curbing the MRSA superbug which is resistant to antibiotics.
About the company: www.micreos.com
LSW gets some more information from Mark Offrerhaus, CEO of Micreos.
LSW: There is a high level of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) prevalent in India and this kind of drug will be eagerly looked forward to.
Mark: Yes, the prevalence of MRSA in India is considered to be endemic, with the vast majority of MRSA found in skin- and soft tissue infections. With an MRSA prevalence at close to 50% in Indian ICU’s this is a serious problem. Of course bacteria accept no geographical barriers, which is why the World Health Organization and many world leaders consider the emergence of antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ as a global health threat. We all need to have alternatives to antibiotics available as soon as possible, and we are working with many authorities to accelerate the availability of Staphefekt in as many applications as countries as possible. If the authorities reach out to us we will do our utmost to help. This gives us much gratification.
LSW: Tell us about the kind of Trial conducted and the success rate.
Mark: We first wanted to await the experience of over 10,000 people using Staphefekt for skin problems with an infectious component, before broadly reporting on this new technology. Results published at the Antibiotic Alternatives for the new Millennium conference in London on November 5-7 included in vitro and in vivo data. Most importantly, they confirmed the efficacy of Staphefekt against MRSA as well as MSSA, and the lack of development of resistance against this type of compound. Case series showed the removal of S. aureus from the skin with a decrease of symptoms, while the beneficial skin flora remained unharmed.
LSW: How different will the treatment be once the drug is developed finally in comparison to the treatment with antibiotic?
Mark: The topical applications will be straight forward, targeting only the S. aureus bacteria, including MRSA. Staphefekt works on the basis of a mechanism that is completely different from that of antibiotics, as a result of which it kills also the antibiotic-resistant strains.
For systemic infections it is too early to say right now how this will differ from antibiotics, but the vast majority of MRSA infections is relating to skin- and soft tissue infections.
LSW: It is mentioned in the media report that the drug will be available within five years. As Micreos being a biotech company, will you be producing the drug under your label and will be holding the patent right?
Mark: We have increased our production facilities and expect to be producing our products ourselves, though parts of the production may be outsourced.
LSW: As the development of a drug as an alternative to antibiotics is a major breakthrough in the medical science, how do you plan to go global as drug resistant infectious diseases are spreading far and fast all over globe?
Mark: The bacterial specificity of our technology is also a limitation. It means that for every type of bacterial species we will need a different compound. Our development pipeline contains numerous candidates for other bacterial targets.
LSW: Micreos specializes in phage technology and your products related to human health, animals, food and agriculture are widely accepted in the European market and you plan to expand to other part of the globe. A few words on your expansion program.
Mark: As we are a small biotech company we have focused on the markets relatively closest to us, including the USA, Europe and Australia. However, the time to expand our business globally has come, and we intend to take this next challenge, in fact we are very excited about it!
LSW: You must be aware that India is ranked very high in the pharma and biotech industry and many of the Indian companies are looking forward to joint ventures and partnerships, is Micreos has any plans in or for India?
Mark: It would be wonderful to partner, also in India. Our goal is to bring our technology to those in need as fast as possible. There are legal requirements which are different from country to country, and those who are willing to help us in the process in good faith are most welcome.
LSW: Any other interesting information on Micreos you would like to mention that might be interesting to us in India.
Mark: To me India has always had a magical sound to it, and I hope next year I will finally be able to visit the country and make a very old dream come true. I have watched many documentaries about your country, and can only imagine how beautiful it is.