• Photo: Carolina Hawranek

Morphobloc - new antifungal agents blocking virulence

Current drugs against mycoses are toxic. We aim to develop a new class of antifungal agents that disarm the invasive forms of fungal cells instead of merely eradicating them. This has two advantages: The new compounds are less aggressive for the host and resistance development is reduced.

Alarming increase in fungal infections

Due to increasing numbers of immunosuppressed individuals in hospitals the incidences of life-threatening fungal infections has increased concomitantly. Particularly patients with surgery, transplantation and cancer are at high risk to acquire invasive fungal infections that cause more than one million deaths every year worldwide (Kim JY, J Microbiol, 2016).

Current fungal therapy is limited, since only a few classes of antifungal agents exist whereby many of those exhibit considerable toxic side effects. In addition, resistant fungal strains emerge which can evade treatment by commonly used drugs. The situation illustrates the urgent need for new classes of antifungal agents with high efficacy and low toxicity at the same time.

New type of effective antifungals with less severe side effects

Our solution is to provide substances that instead of merely eradicating all fungal cells block their virulence characteristics and thereby prevent harm to the patient. Our less aggressive substances have the advantage that toxic side effects can be minimized as well as resistance development is reduced. Fungal microbes attacked by our product are forced into benign growth and thus selective pressure, the driving force for resistance development is minimized.

Limited supply makes current antifungals expensive

Current antifungal therapy has a limited range of molecular targets and only few companies are engaged in the production of these drugs. Nevertheless, the global market for antifungal drugs in 2015 was analyzed for 6.82 billion US dollars with an annual increase of 0.1-0.2 billion US dollars. Conclusively, prices for antifungal drugs are relatively high. It is therefore our aim to provide a less-aggressive, less toxic product with high efficacy at a competitive prize.

First steps towards a new competitive therapy to help more patients

We performed a need analysis for our product with interview partners from clinics and pharma industry. The need for new antifungals was confirmed in an overwhelming manner. We are currently investigating two compound classes with high efficacy in vitro and develop these further according to the performed need analysis and more industry-oriented need analyses to come.

We will use the gathered information to formulate a targeted product profile, identify industry-approved animal infection models and commence with IPR as well as founding of a company.

Umeå Biotech Incubator (UBI)
Box 7995, SE-907 36 Umeå, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)90- 15 49 70
Mail: info@ubi.se