The antibiotic is in the pre-clinical stage – that is, it has not gone through all three phases of clinical trials which mean it is safe and effective. But Dr Anandkumar hopes it will be ready for phase one by the end of this year.
Carb-X has given Bugworks an initial grant of $2.6m with potential for that to go up to $3.6m. It sounds like a lot of money but to bring an antibiotic through all the clinical trials requires around $150m, he says.
“Carb-X takes it to phase one and then they hope and pray that someone will take it to phase two and phase three. Phase two costs about $25m and phase three about $150m,” he says.
There is no shortage of companies like his, working at the early research stage – Carb-X is working with more than 20 small biotechs to help them to phase one, although Bugworks is one of the most advanced.
But it’s getting a drug to the next stage so it’s ready to be manufactured at a large scale which is difficult and expensive, with the whole process thought to cost in the region of £1 billion.