Athens, Ga. – Medical Molecular Therapeutics, LLC, a University of Georgia Research Foundation start-up company, recently received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market two antimicrobial solutions, SilvionTM and Silvaklenz®, that can be used to fight multiple-drug-resistant bacteria such as Methacillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
“We started with the goal of stopping multi-drug resistant bacteria. Physicians now have a new weapon in their antimicrobial arsenal to fight even the most dangerous bacteria, like the infection that affected Christopher Reeve,” said Branson Ritchie, Distinguished Research Professor in Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia. The antimicrobial solutions that received clearance were the result of collaborative research between Ritchie and Richard Wooley, emeritus professor of infectious diseases.
The development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics is an evolving problem in many areas of medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that MRSA accounts for greater than half of hospital-acquired staph infections, and an increasing number of Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecalis infections. These resistant bacteria are often referred to as “superbugs,” infecting more than 94,000 people each year (figures from 2005) and killing almost 19,000.
Working with multi-drug resistant bacterial species recovered from burn patients, Wooley and Ritchie developed in the laboratory an innovative topical antimicrobial technology that “potentiates” – increases the effectiveness of microbial killing – currently available antibiotics.
“A bacterium is likely to lose its resistance to an antibiotic when our potentiation technology is added to the drug,” explains Ritchie. “Preliminary findings also show that the potentiated antimicrobials reduce pain, heal wounds more rapidly, and break through bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are generated by bacterial colonies to form a barrier that blocks the penetration of antibiotics and antimicrobials that may be applied to the surface.”
Bart Flick, M.D., CEO of Medical Molecular Therapeutics, first saw the research group’s results presented at a seminar at the Joseph Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.
“I recognized immediately how the potentiator technology would revolutionize the treatment of any surface infection (e.g., skin, mouth, sinus passages, bladder and uterus),” Flick said.
“Molecular Therapeutics is a Georgia BioBusiness Center affiliate company that we think has enormous potential, and we will continue to assist with the company’s growth and sustainability,” said Margaret Dahl, director of business and economic development for the GBBC, a resource program of the university that enables bioscience startup companies to accelerate their initial growth.
“The translation of basic science research by University of Georgia faculty into effective clinical products is a credit to the vision of UGARF and the BioBusiness Center,” Ritchie said.
“Being able to work with mentors and colleagues on a project that has the potential to benefit so many people is a real blessing,” Ritchie said. “This project is the perfect example of how entrepreneurial development and the application of basic science research can result in clinical technologies that have far-reaching benefits. With an enhanced dedication to entrepreneurial development from the University System of Georgia, our stakeholders will reap innumerable benefits from a program that allowed us to bring colleagues in the state together to turn problems into opportunities and opportunities into efficacious and available products.”
With the first two products now through the FDA, and on their way to being available globally, Medical Molecular Therapeutics is focusing on preparations Wooley and Ritchie have developed in collaboration with UGA College of Pharmacy professor Anthony Capomacchia to treat Herpes Simplex (HSV-1 and HSV-2) and acne.