Boehringer Ingelheim, Evotec band with diagnostics player to tackle 'superbugs' through joint venture
Having offered financial support to companies developing antibiotics and fighting antimicrobial resistance, Boehringer Ingelheim is launching its own.
The German pharma is teaming up with Evotec — the drug discovery and development player with whom it already has a long-running R&D alliance in other areas — and French diagnostic company bioMérieux to start a joint venture that will create both next-gen antimicrobials and diagnostics to tackle infectious diseases.
Aurobac, as the joint venture will be known, wants to shift from what it calls broad spectrum and unfocused medicines to a precision approach powered by targeted modalities. Under this paradigm, clinicians could also make use of diagnostics to “quickly identify pathogens and their resistance patterns,” allowing them to make decisions accordingly.
Armed with €40 million (close to $41 million) in initial funding, Aurobac will be headquartered in Lyon, France.
Global public health advocates have long warned about the looming threat of “superbugs” that are resistant to all available antibiotics, which can create a dire world where even routine surgical procedures could be life-threatening. Per an estimate, antimicrobial resistance could account for as many as 10 million deaths per year by 2050, “making it potentially deadlier than cancer,” said Michel Pairet, head of Boehringer Ingelheim’s innovation unit.
At the urging of the WHO, a handful of heavyweight pharma players including Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer and GSK pooled together the AMR Action Fund. Boehringer invested €50 million in the fund and its corporate venture arm has committed to pour up to €12 million into AMR infection companies.
“The grim prospect of a post-antibiotic era has many causes but only one solution: The development of new, targeted, and effective antimicrobial therapies,” Evotec CEO Werner Lanthaler said in a statement.
As the lead investor, Boehringer is contributing €30 million while Evotec and bioMérieux adds €5 million each.
Evotec brings research expertise with more than 200 scientists on the antibacterial R&D team, while bioMérieux will spearhead the development and commercialization of diagnostics. Boehringer chimes in on drug discovery and clinical development.
In addition to developing new treatments, bioMérieux echoed experts in noting that an appropriate use of antibiotics would be crucial to sustain antibiotic efficacy for future generations.