Who we are
Ultupharma AB was founded in 2015 as a collaboration with researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) with the goal to find new antibiotics in nature. The work is carried out at SLU, by collaborating university groups and by contract laboratories, in several countries.
What we do
Ultupharma has the goal to develop antibiotics with new mechanisms of action using two different approaches:
1) New antibiotic compounds produced by microorganisms.
2) New antibiotic drugs by repurposing nucleoside analogues in combination with other known compounds.
The Ultupharma ULT1, ULT2 and ULT3-programmes are currently evaluated as new antibiotics against drug-resistant bacteria.
The biggest threat to modern medicine
There is an urgent global need for new antibiotic drugs. The spread of multiresistant bacteria is threatening the basis of modern healthcare, and the global antibiotic pipeline is simply not keeping up with resistance spread.
In September 2016 all 193 United Nation members agreed that antibiotic resistance was the biggest threat to modern medicine. Effective treatment of bacterial infections is the cornerstone of modern medicine, but the spread of multiresistant bacteria has already started to seriously limit the possibilities to treat life-threatening infectious diseases. Antibiotic resistance will also severely decrease the possibilities to perform certain types of surgery, transplant organs or stem cells, use chemotherapy or treatments with biological pharmaceuticals for patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases, etc.
During 2019 more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occurred in the U.S. and more than 35 000 people died as a result thereof. The situation in the EU is at least as serious as in the U.S. The situation in many other countries is even worse and increasing. Resistant bacteria now cause more than 700 000 deaths globally every year. A failure to address the problem of antibiotic resistance could result in 10 million deaths annually by 2050, at an estimated cost of 100 trillion USD.
Figure 1 (click image to enlarge). Bubbles indicate the number of cases and deaths attributable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in EU and the European Economic Area, 2015. (Bubble diameters = disability-adjusted life-years.) Activity of ULT1, ULT2 and ULT3 is indicated. CRACI = carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter spp. VRE = vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium. ColREC = colistin-resistant Escherichia coli. 3GCREC = third-generation cephalosporin-resistant E. coli. ColRKP = colistin-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae. CRKP = carbapenem-resistant K. pneumoniae. 3GCRKP = third-generation cephalosporin-resistant K. pneumoniae. CRPA = carbapenem-resistant P. aeruginosa. MDRPA = multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa. MRSA = meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Adapted from Lancet, Nov. 5, 2018.
IDSA (Infectious Diseases Society of America) issued the 10 × ’20 Initiative in 2010, stating that ten new systemic antibiotic drugs were needed by 2020, and then at least one new drug annually.
Despite the growing need for new antibiotic drugs, the development of new antibiotic drugs has been neglected for many years, in spite of multidrug resistant bacteria becoming a rapidly growing problem with an increasingly high cost to society. Since 2010 only one new antibiotic drug with new mechanism of action has been approved by FDA (fidaxomicin, 2011). Other drugs have either been members of existing classes of antibiotics or old antibiotics combined with new beta lactamase inhibitors.
Several recent initiatives that will contribute to making development of new antibiotic drugs profitable again, and one example is the AMR Action Fund which was presented in July 2020. Another possibility is the financial model proposed by DRIVE-AB in the report Revitalizing the antibiotic pipeline in January 2018, composed of “push” incentives and “pull” incentives including market entry rewards of 1 billion USD.