US government agencies funding investigation of Spero Therapeutics’ SPR994 antibiotic.
The potential for a bioterrorist attack on the United States remains a key concern for the US government. Various defense agencies continue to seek new treatments for infectious diseases that might be used as bioweapons, such as anthrax, plague and melioidosis.
The new antibiotic being developed by Cambridge, Massachusetts startup Spero Therapeutics has caught their attention. The company’s drug candidate SPR994, which it licensed from Meiji Seika Pharma, is an oral formulation based on tebipenem, a carbapenem-class antibiotic. The drug has been on the market in Japan since 2009 (Orapenem) for the treatment of common pediatric infections. SPR994 has been awarded Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) status for complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI), diabetic foot infections (DFI) and community-acquired bacterial pneumonia (CABP) by the US Food and Drug Administration. Spero plans to conduct a phase 3 trial with SPR994 for the treatment of cUTI beginning in late 2018.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) has awarded Spero $15.7 million in upfront funding for the testing of SPR994 against bioterrorist threats, with the possibility of an additional $28.5 million in milestone payments over the next 5 years. The studies will be performed by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. Nonclinical biodefense studies are being funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is contributing $1.25 million of the funds and could pay up to $8.75 million of the additional funds if milestones are reached.
Some of the funds will also support the clinical trial that Spero is planning for SPR994 in cUTI.