PhagoMed Biopharma GmbH came 2nd and won 20.000 EUR in one of the toughest contests for young European biotech companies, namely the Health Catapult of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The company´s synthetic lysin platform with bacterial vaginosis as a first target indication was selected by an international jury as a leading biotech innovation in Europe in 2020. The EIT Health Catapult is a year-long multistage challenge designed to identify and accelerate promising European start-ups in the categories of Biotech, Medtech and Digital Health.
Yesterday afternoon the Austrian biotech company PhagoMed Biopharma GmbH won second place in the EIT Health Catapult. The company impressed the judges across multiple stages with its novel approach to treat debilitating bacterial infections by using phage-based proteins, so-called lysins. The international contest started in May and comprised several levels of competition. During the final stage in December one winner and two runner-up were chosen from 7 finalists in the biotech category. During the contest each team pitched their solution to the EIT Health network, one of the largest healthcare communities worldwide including over 150 leading healthcare organisations.
PhagoMed’s lead program is an engineered phage endolysin that offers a highly innovative and precise therapy for recurrent bacterial vaginosis, a disease for which no effective treatment option exists. Recently, PhagoMed released data showing that their drug candidate not only lyses the bacterial strain mainly responsible for the infection, but also fully dissolves resistant biofilms. Furthermore, due to the high specificity of the endolysin, the beneficial microbiome remained unharmed. This combination of high efficacy and high precision makes the endolysin a highly innovative solution for recurrent bacterial vaginosis, which affects 100 million women every year.
Impressed by the alternative the company´s portfolio offers to traditional antibiotic treatments that fail in bacterial vaginosis and, on top, experience increasing resistance problems, PhagoMed was selected at the regional final in May 2020 where it competed against finalists from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In the semi-finals in October the company was not only selected for the December finals but was also awarded the LallianSe price for most exciting market access opportunity. The 2nd place of the overall competition the company now reached comes with an award of 20.000 EUR and is a strong sign of the resurgence of interest in novel anti-bacterials and in PhagoMed’s lead program in recurrent bacterial vaginosis.
Video: Bacterial Vaginosis & PM-477: https://youtu.be/dDnodf64EW0
About PhagoMed Biopharma GmbH
PhagoMed has developed a synthetic biology platform that can target any bacterial pathogen, precisely. The company's approach relies on predicting and designing novel lysins, small proteins derived from phages, that recognize specific bacterial species and kill them by cleaving the bonds in their cell wall. PhagoMed's lead asset PM-477 for the treatment of recurrent bacterial vaginosis has been validated in vaginal samples from >70 patients and has the potential to become the first precision vaginal therapy. Since its incorporation in November 2017, the company has filed four patents, raised more than EUR 6.5 million in private investments and public grants and won multiple awards. PhagoMed currently has a team of 15 highly skilled people at the Campus Vienna Biocenter in Vienna, Austria.
Endolysins are proteins originally encoded by phages - viruses that only infect bacteria. Phages multiply by injecting their DNA into the bacteria and reprogramming the cells to produce new phages. As soon as sufficient phage particles have been produced by the bacteria, the phages dissolve the cell wall with the help of special enzymes – including endolysins. Endolysins cleave the bacterial cell wall which leads to instant cell death. Endolysins can also be used on its own – without phages – in the fight against bacteria. Individual endolysins are only active against a limited spectrum of bacteria (typically just one genus). This combination of high selectivity as well as high effectiveness in killing bacteria makes endolysins highly attractive as an alternative to antibiotics for the treatment of serious bacterial infections.