SOURCE: Government of Victoria Australia

May 06, 2007 14:26 ET

Wallaby Milk Compounds Effective Against Antibody Resistant "Superbugs"

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA and BOSTON, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 6, 2007 -- Scientists from Victoria, Australia, have begun pre-clinical trials of a compound found in wallaby milk designed to fight antibiotic resistant 'superbugs.' "This is an important step towards the development of the antimicrobial compound AGG01 which may prove vital in the war against increasingly resistant human and animal diseases," announced Victorian Premier Steve Bracks at Bio 2007 in Boston.

Wallabies and kangaroos are born without an adaptive immune system and do not develop antibodies until 100 days after birth, yet somehow manage to avoid infection while maturing in the marsupial pouch. Researchers have been examining wallaby milk as a source of their immunity. Team Leader Dr. Ben Cocks said, "Through an advanced computer system and bioinformatics technologies, we have identified more than 30 anti-microbial factors in wallaby milk. AGG01 is special because instead of just stopping the growth of bacteria like many other antimicrobials, it actually kills them -- and quickly. We have already made improved variants of the molecule that are stable in human blood and we are ready to begin animal tests and find a partner to do human trials."

AGG01 is effective against many of the most dangerous clinical isolates of multidrug resistant superbugs. This includes Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococci, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella and Acinetobacter. "The new findings confirm the compound has potent activity against pathogenic bacteria. A full patent has been filed, and we have already begun discussions with commercial partners to develop the compound," said Mr. Bracks. The compound has a unique mode action and is most effective against gram-negative bacteria, including those that provide limited options for treatment.

About Antibody Resistant Superbugs

Many species of gram-negative bacteria are pathogenic, meaning they can cause disease in a host organism. This pathogenic capability is usually associated with certain components of gram-negative cell walls, in particular the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) layer. The LPS triggers the body's immune response which begins the inflammation cycle in tissues and blood vessels. Many common gram-negative bacteria have become "superbugs" through drug-resistant mutations.

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