Combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria


Taylor Cohen

With antibiotic-resistant bacteria infection currently at epidemic levels, due in part to the widespread use of empiric antibiotic therapy, there is a clear need for new medical innovation to protect vulnerable patients.

Bacterial infection, especially in the hospital setting, may often be the result of multiple bacterial pathogens, including many that are no longer susceptible to available antibiotics. This rise in drug-resistant bacteria is alarming and especially dangerous for hospitalized patients who are immunocompromised, elderly or very young.

To combat the rise of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections, MedImmune scientists are pursuing pathogen-specific antibacterial agents MEDI4893 and MEDI3902, monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) that both achieved FDA fast track status in 2014. MEDI4893 is in Phase 2 trials for the prevention of pneumonia caused by Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) in intensive care unit patients, and MEDI3902 is in Phase 2 clinical trials for the prevention of nosocomial pneumonia caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa). Both are drug-resistant bacterial pathogens responsible for serious disease in hospitalized patients.

We recently published a study in Science Translational Medicine that explored pathogen-specific mAb therapies, such as MEDI4893, against mixed bacterial lung infections. We developed lung co-infection models by combining S. aureus with other drug resistant pathogens that often cause serious lung infections. Results showed S. aureus can act as a gateway pathogen to other serious infections, encouraging growth of co-infecting bacteria and increasing the severity of mixed infections. Promisingly, study findings indicated potential in precision therapies like MEDI4893 to reduce the risk of serious respiratory infections with multiple bacterial pathogens.

Additionally, a recent pipeline review published in The Lancet, with contribution from MedImmune scientists, discusses the importance of new treatments in the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria infection. Alternatives to antibiotics are essential, and the review identifies antibodies as an approach most likely to have major clinical impact.

These recent publications complement MedImmune’s continuing efforts to develop precision therapies such as MEDI4893 and MEDI3902, and provide pre-clinical data indicating mAb therapies have promise to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections in the hospital setting. We are committed to pursuing clinical trials to further demonstrate the safety and efficacy of these molecules and define the patient populations that may benefit from MEDI4893 and MEDI3902.