Melbourne company joins the antimicrobial challenge

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Melbourne-based Opal BioSciences has joined the US government's Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Challenge by committing to work on the development of new anti-infective treatments for life-threatening and hard-to-treat infections.

Opal is an Australian biotechnology company established in 2015 with a sole focus on developing new antibiotics.

The AMR Challenge is a year-long effort designed to accelerate the fight against antimicrobial resistance. 

Opal said its drug candidate, BDM-I, is a small molecule that has shown in laboratory experiments that it can kill many serious disease-causing microbes (pathogens) including six identified by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The company said its current focus is on antibiotic-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoea, which is responsible for causing the sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhoea.

"BDM-I has shown in vitro activity against all of the 2016 World Health Organization Reference strain panel, including those highly resistant to currently recommended antibiotics," it said.

According to Opal’s managing director, Julie Phillips, “This important initiative by the US Government helps to co-ordinate attention towards one of the world’s most serious and growing problems.

"Our generation takes antibiotics for granted; relying on their protection for major surgeries like joint replacements and organ transplants, as well as aggressive cancer treatments. We are pleased to do our part to develop new treatments for infections, as antibiotic resistance rises around the world.”