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Development of Broad-Spectrum CyclicAmphiphilic Peptides against Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41AI164997-01A1
Agency Tracking Number: R41AI164997
Amount: $300,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIAID
Solicitation Number: PA21-262
Solicitation Year: 2021
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-08-18
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-07-31
Small Business Information
Mission Viejo, CA 92691-7359
United States
DUNS: 117147254
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (949) 439-6677
Business Contact
Phone: (949) 439-6677
Research Institution
ORANGE, CA 92866-1005
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

The emergence of antibacterial resistance to common frontline antibiotics, such as methicillin, vancomycin, cephalosporins,
and carbapenem, have created a global public health challenge for millions of patients. It is therefore critical to discover and
commercialize new antimicrobial agents that can successfully neutralize multidrug-resistant bacteria (MDRB) with minimal
toxicity. The objective of this proposal is to develop unique first-in-class amphiphilic cyclic antimicrobial peptides (AMPs)
that are active against clinically relevant pathogens like Enterococcus faecium, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella
pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Enterobacter species (ESKAPE pathogens). We
propose to develop AMPs containing natural and/or unnatural hydrophobic and positively charged residues for their broad-
spectrum activity and efficacy against specific MDR pathogens, using in vitro and in vivo assays. We have discovered that
a cyclic amphipathic peptide [R4W4], which comprises tryptophan (W) and arginine (R) amino acids was effective against
diverse bacterial pathogens, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (MIC = 2.7 µg/mL),
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MIC = 42.8 µg/mL), Klebsiella pneumoniae (MIC = 16.0 µg/mL), and Escherichia coli (MIC =
16.0 µg/mL) and showed synergistic activity with tetracycline against MRSA, and isoniazid and pyrazinamide against
Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Based on this template, we generated a new library of peptides (andgt;200) with enhanced
antimicrobial activities. For example, IFX-027, IFX-135, IFX-145, IFX-146, IFX-154, and IFX-301 showed MIC = 1.5-25
µg/mL against Gram+ve and Gram-ve bacteria. Several of the lead compounds demonstrated synergistic activity with
several other antibiotics with fractional inhibitory concentration (FIC) indices ranging from 0.3-0.5. Our lead peptides (IFX-
031, IFX-031-1, and IFX-111) also reduced biofilm formation by MRSA and P. aeruginosa. IFX-301 was found to be
nontoxic at a dose level of 50 mg/kg in mice, and all peptides were not toxic against human red blood cells (hRBC)
(HC50andgt;500 μg/mL). In Aim 1, we will establish a structure-activity relationship (SAR) based on the six lead peptides to
obtain insights into the structural determinants responsible for the molecules’ selectivity towards bacterial pathogens. The
most potent compounds will be further evaluated for their stability, cytotoxicity, and development over time to antimicrobial
resistance. The proposed milestones for Aim 1 are to identify five lead peptide analogs with MIC ≤5 µg/mL and MIC ≤10
µg/mL respectively against Gram+ve and Gram-ve bacteria, and hRBC hemolysis of ≤5% at a concentration of 20 times
the MIC value. In Aim 2, we will evaluate the in vivo efficacy and toxicity, preliminary pharmacokinetics (e.g., Cmax, tmax,
t1/2), and efficacy of the 2-3 lead antimicrobial peptide analogs identified in Aim 1 on a murine infection model against four
pathogenic bacteria. At the successful completion of Phase I, the most potent compound with a large therapeutic index will
be advanced to Phase II studies and be the focus for an IND application.PROJECT NARRATIVE
This proposal will develop a small cohort of optimized antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) against multidrug-resistant bacteria
that are effective in vitro and in-vivo in a neutropenic mouse model of infection and have produced reliable safety and
stability in mice.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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