US-based firm Warp Drive Bio has formed a strategic alliance with Roche for the discovery and development of several new classes of antibiotics.

Warp Drive Bio is a drug discovery company focused on the development of therapeutics that exploit the molecules and mechanisms of nature.

The current global health threat of multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections has generated an immediate need for the discovery of new antibiotics with the latest structures and mechanisms of action.

Under the agreement, the company will deploy its proprietary Genome Mining platform to advance multiple new classes of antibiotics with activity against clinically important, drug-resistant, Gram-negative pathogens.

The platform will provide access to natural product drugs that have not been studied previously, owing to historical technology limitations.

Warp Drive Bio CEO Dr Laurence Reid said: “We are committed to bringing urgently needed novel antibiotic medicines to patients, and we are delighted to be collaborating with Roche in that goal.

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“We are committed to bringing urgently needed novel antibiotic medicines to patients, and we are delighted to be collaborating with Roche in that goal.”

“Antimicrobial resistance is an extraordinary threat to global human health, and Warp Drive’s unique platform allows us to access a vast reservoir of uncharacterised natural products from which to identify novel antibiotics.”

As part of the deal, Roche has an option for an exclusive worldwide licence to develop and commercialise certain antibiotic classes that is created as a result of the partnership.

Warp Drive Bio will retain worldwide rights to all other new antibiotic classes from the collaboration.

The company will be eligible to receive up to $300m in payments related to specific clinical, regulatory and sales milestones on products licensed to Roche and up to another $87m in upfront payment, option fees, and milestone payments for preclinical events.

Warp Drive will also receive tiered royalties for development candidates up to double digits on future net sales for products licensed to Roche.