MTPConnect Podcast: How Bugworks is Tackling the Superbug Challenge for World Antimicrobial Awareness Week

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25 November 2022

MTPConnect and AAMRNet are marking World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2022 with a special podcast episode featuring a company at the forefront of antibiotic research - Bugworks!

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) is held annually to highlight the importance of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as a growing global health threat, and the critical need to revitalise the interest in innovation of antimicrobials.

This year’s theme is ‘Preventing Antimicrobial Resistance Together’ and highlights the multitude of campaigns and research efforts happening around the world.

Bugworks is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company, headquartered in the US, with subsidiaries in India and Australia, currently developing novel antibacterials and immunotherapies. The MTPConnect podcast spoke to Bugworks co-founder and CEO Dr Anand Anandkumar in Bangalore.

Dr Anandkumar explains the story behind how the company was formed as big pharma such as Astra Zeneca were pulling out of the space, the funding challenges, and the benefits of being part of the global Boston-based Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria (CARB-X) portfolio, and the Bangalore-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP).

Bugworks has selected Adelaide, South Australia to conduct its first-in-human Phase 1 clinical trials with its propriety drug candidate, BWC0977, a broad spectrum antibiotic against critical pathogens. On the podcast, we asked, ‘Why Adelaide?’

“We never thought about Australia. Being a ‘United States’ company, I come from the US and I'm a very Silicon Valley- type of person…. We started looking at what would be the best part of the world to do a phase one trial - a phase one trial means safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics - just to see if your stuff is behaving properly in a human. And we were amazed that the Australians own the Phase one space.

“We found out that 16,000 clinical trials are running in your country. One of the reasons that your clinical trial capabilities are so fantastic is because clinical trial companies are connected deeply inside your hospital system. They are not separate from your hospital system,” Dr Anandkumar said.

MTPConnect’s Director of Stakeholder Engagement for Queensland and co-chair of the Australian Antimicrobial Resistance Network (AAMRNet) Andrew Bowskill, said it was s a pleasure to talk with Anand, and listen to his journey from semiconductor engineering into antimicrobial drug discovery.

“Bugworks is doing a great job in developing a new antibiotic, a much-needed effort in this challenging space. He also explains the important role of accelerators in supporting AMR innovations, which is an idea we are keen to progress in Australia. The WAAW has shed light on these inspiring stories of AMR fighters. Sharing such stories is an important way to bring people together to face this escalating crisis,” he said.

Find out more on the MTPConnect Podcast episode as hosts Caroline Duell and Andrew Bowskill talk about overcoming the superbug challenges with Dr Anandkumar.

And check out the recently released ‘Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Impact Report: How big is Australia's AMR threat?, developed by AAMRNet and CSIRO, which reviews gaps in our data collection methods to find out how many people are dying from drug-resistant infections in Australia.