Micrologix Biotech Inc. has acquired exclusive worldwide rightsto genetically engineered peptides with anti-microbial action.

Called enhancers, these peptides were developed byresearchers at the University of British Columbia, which isaffiliated with the Canadian Bacterial Diseases Network, anational research consortium designed to assist technologytransfer to industry.

Enhancers disintegrate bacterial cell walls; this can destroy themicrobe or assist entry of an antibiotic designed to kill thesingle-cell organism. Combining enhancers with antibiotics maybe particularly suited to bacteria that resist drugs, perhapsbecause antibiotics have been unable to penetrate their cellwalls.

Anthony Chow, head of infectious diseases at VancouverGeneral Hospital, called enhancers a novel approach to treathospital-derived infections, which afflict 2 million NorthAmericans annually at a cost of $1.5 billion.

Micrologix, a 7-year-old Vancouver company, is developing afamily of therapeutics based on these peptides as direct killersof disease-causing bacteria. With genetic engineering, thecompany expects to produce both broad-spectrum and specificcompounds more cheaply than through chemical synthesis.

Micrologix is developing a lead compound that has shown anability to kill several of the most dangerous hospital-derivedbacterial infections, said Kevin Nephin, the company's vicepresident. -- Nancy Garcia

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.