An advanced interventional microbiomics company, which is developing non-antibiotic methods for the control of multiple-drug resistant superbugs and other infectious disease, is stepping up development of a cure for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

BioPlx has set out to control and combat the rise of superbugs by using targeted microbiological and immunological agents to decolonise (eliminate) undesirable or pathogenic organisms, and recolonise with safe replacement organisms that durably occupy the same microbiomic niches, and prevent pathogen recurrence and re-infection.

Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) has been characterised by the WHO as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today”, with the stark warning that “the rapid global spread of multi- and pan-resistant bacteria (also known as “superbugs”) causing infections are not treatable with existing antimicrobial medicines such as antibiotics.”

Amid WHO’s ominous outlook and other unequivocal warnings on the implications of AMR, one SciTech industry insider weighs in on what’s needed to stem this phenomenon that is killing people in increasing numbers and vastly changing the world we live in – today and for the years ahead.

Tim Starzl is the son of Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD (known as the ‘father of modern transplantation’) and co-founder and President/Chairman of BioPlx. This advanced interventional microbiomics company is developing non-antibiotic methods for the control of multiple-drug resistant superbugs and other infectious diseases.

Tim explains, “Both the medical community and the masses need to understand AMR with a better conceptual framework than the often-misused concept of ‘mutation’.

“We’re living in an era when pandemics like the current COVID-19 contagion are increasingly posing a significant risk of mortality, as bacterial infections do not have the level of herd resistance that was present even a few decades ago.”

In fact, with the COVID-19 Delta variant raging across the world, one peer reviewed medical journal reports that AMR is being exacerbated in kind. It cites: “Bacterial infections unsuccessfully treated due to AMR claim at least 700 000 lives per year worldwide and are projected to be associated with the deaths of 10 million people per year by 2050, at a cost of US$100 trillion to the global economy through loss of productivity. In the USA, more than 2.8 million multidrug-resistant bacterial infections occur annually, causing at least 35,000 deaths and $20 billion in health-care expenditures.”

Starzl’s research, and that of his son, Ravi, who is co-founder of BioPlx, is focused on developing a cure for antibiotic resistant bacteria. He says, “We are in an ‘arms race’ to develop effective tools to attack AMR—one of the primary threats to the human race.

“A paradigm shift in the science is needed relative to the basic concepts of microbiome management and ecology—one that facilitates highly selective antibody-based decolonisation methods to remove specific pathogens from their embedded microbiomic niches. This with durable, niche-specific, protective recolonisation using safe engineered ‘Kill-Switch’ replacement organisms that cannot infect their host.

“Optimally, this science also proffers solutions that concurrently satisfy medical practice, reimbursement, patient requirement and public health objectives while also reducing disease recurrence and care provider liability, risk and matrix strategies. Fortunately, today’s technology—and those on the near horizon—allow for all of this.”

Speaking at the virtual World Anti-Microbial Resistance Congress, attended by experts from over 50 countries, Dr. Ravi Starzl shared key findings of his groundbreaking research, discussing “Pangenomic Microbial Memory: The Origin of the AMR Crisis”; and “Kill Switch: A Critical Tool in the Fight Against AMR’.