What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the AMR space into 2022?
One of the biggest challenges we are currently facing is re-engaging private investors with our sector.
Many companies engaged in the AMR mission are small-and–medium sized enterprises, and most report difficulty in raising sufficient new equity to progress their innovative programs without significant delays.
Important projects like the Milken Institute’s work on innovative finance mechanisms in AMR will hopefully help re-connect private capital with this vital global mission.
Similarly, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s imperative that governments around the world take a lead in leveraging private finance into small and medium businesses like Infex Therapeutics that are on the front line of AMR preparedness.
If you could wave a magic wand, what would you like to see occur in the coming year to further combat AMR?
I would use my magic wand to address the perennial issue of reimbursement reform, in particular the implementation of the PASTEUR Act provisions which are essential to reward much needed innovation and leverage the hundreds of millions of private capital required to successfully bring new products to market.
What would you like to highlight about your work/your organization for this coming year?
Our RESP-X programme is an anti-virulence therapy in-licensed from Japanese pharma company Shionogi. It is designed to help the body tackle Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a hard to treat drug-resistant pathogen recognised by the WHO as a critical threat to human health. A novel humanised monoclonal antibody, RESP-X does not kill bacteria directly but deactivates a mechanism that prevents the immune system from acting against the infection.
RESP-X is designed as a preventative treatment against non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, a long-term condition where the airways of the lungs become abnormally widened, leading to a build-up of excess mucus that can make the lungs more vulnerable to infection. Patients can become chronically infected with Pseudomonas, significantly reducing their quality of life. There is high unmet need, with millions of patients worldwide at risk of this condition, and no approved preventative therapy – it’s a really exciting project and we will make great progress commencing clinical trials in 2022.
Do you have any predictions for the AMR space in 2022 and beyond? Any calls-to-action you’d like to highlight?
The best strategy to futureproof the world against further economic uncertainty caused by the devastating impact of the past two years is to better prepare for critical-priority infectious diseases by building a robust pipeline of new treatments. Everyone has a part to play, from governments to private investors to the companies on the ground like Infex Therapeutics.
We are a proud member of iiCON, the Infection Innovation Consortium headed by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which received £18.6 million from UK Research and Innovation Strength in Places Fund (SIPF). iiCON serves to bridge the gap in the R&D ecosystem between industry, academia, and the NHS, to accelerate and support the discovery and development of innovative new anti-infective drugs – cross agency collaborations such as this will prove pivotal to progress in AMR in the year ahead.
In particular, I would encourage government ministers in the UK to build upon the work already undertaken on scientific excellence and place and consider what further steps can be taken to support the much-needed preparedness work in infectious diseases. With iiCON and the world-leading cluster in the North West, we have the foundations already laid, and with further investment we can help our country, and the world, to develop the solutions that will save lives and protect our way of life. This is a great opportunity and the time to act is right now!