St. Louis, Feb. 11, 1998 -- Washington University in St. Louis has signed an agreement with SIGA Pharmaceuticals Inc. that gives the company exclusive rights to new antibacterial technology. The agreement will allow SIGA to develop an entirely new class of antibiotics that are less likely to be sidelined by bacterial resistance than current therapies. It also provides three years of research funding to the Washington University scientists who are involved in this project.
SIGA Pharmaceuticals is a New York-based drug development company that produces vaccines, antibiotics and novel anti-infectives. It also signed agreements with MedImmune and Astra, two biotech companies that previously had licensed the technology from Washington University.
"We are delighted to enter into a relationship with this exciting new biopharmaceutical venture," says P. Andrew Neighbour, Ph.D., the University's associate vice chancellor and director for technology management. "We are optimistic that SIGA will develop effective new drugs for the treatment of Gram-negative bacterial infections using this technology."
The technology was developed by Scott J. Hultgren, Ph.D., associate professor of molecular microbiology at the School of Medicine. Over the past decade, Hultgren's group has determined how Gram-negative bacteria manufacture the structures that allow them to cling to human tissues and therefore cause disease. Gram-negative bacteria have an outer lipid layer and do not take up Gram stains.
Most of Hultgren's work has focused on strains of E. coli that infect
the kidney and bladder. But the same principles apply to many other pathogens,
including those that cause middle-ear infections, pneumonia, meningitis and
gonorrhea. "The knowledge that we generated by studying the structure and
function of microbial attachment has provided a blueprint for the development of
Contact: Linda Sage
Washington University School of Medicine