The early-stage venture capital fund AmorChem has entered an agreement with Université de Sherbrooke (UdeS) and TransferTech Sherbrooke, in Canada, to optimize the antibiotic tomatidine for treating infections associated with cystic fibrosis (CF).
Tomatidine is a naturally occurring product that can be extracted from tomatoes. Previous findings have shown that tomatidine and analogous (comparable) molecules have antibiotic (microorganism-inhibiting) properties, and may be useful to treat infections linked to CF.
Research teams at UdeS, led by François Malouin and Éric Marsault, have identified the molecular target that tomatidine and related molecules act upon. Preliminary findings suggest that tomatidine activity could be extended to treat a broad spectrum of bacterial infections, including Gram-negative and Gram-positive, two types of bacteria distinguished by structural differences in their cell walls.
“The confirmation that the bactericidal activity of tomatidine and its analogs could be optimized to treat Gram negative bacteria in addition to Gram positive ones crystallized our interest,” Maxime Ranger, general partner at AmorChem, said in a press release.
“There is a high demand for broad spectrum antibiotics able to treat severe infections and we are encouraged by the results obtained by this team,” Ranger added.
According to AmorChem co-founder Inès Holzbaur, the collaboration between the three groups can bring several opportunities in the development of new antibiotic strategies.
“The transaction between TransferTech Sherbrooke and AmorChem allows a team of antibiotics researchers at UdeS to access significant financing,” Michel Lambert, CEO of TransferTech Sherbrooke said, highlighting the importance of new and effective antibiotic strategies in the progress of modern medicine.
“We are therefore very happy to have contributed to the promotion of this innovative technology,” Lambert added.
The Canadian health charity Cystic Fibrosis Canada has funded the work of Malouin and his team.
“This agreement demonstrates the real-world impact of the research that Cystic Fibrosis Canada supports, as well as the steady progression and development of cystic fibrosis research,” said Kelly Grover, president and CEO at Cystic Fibrosis Canada. “Cystic Fibrosis Canada began funding Dr. Malouin in 2006, and we are excited and proud that this work is maturing to the point of investment.”
Apart from Cystic Fibrosis Canada, the project also received funding from the Quebec Ministry for Economy and Innovation’s “Programme de soutien à la valorisation et au transfert — Phase II” (“Recovery and transfer support program”). Aligo Innovation and the not-for-profit research organization Mitacs also supported and funded the project.