Home » Antibiotic Resistance » There’s new life in tried-and-tested drugs
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Dr Sven Hobbie

Founding CEO of Juvabis AG

A vital class of antibiotics is on the verge of being saved thanks to European investment and collaboration.


An estimated 500 million daily doses of a class of antibiotics known as aminoglycosides are prescribed globally every year to fight bacterial infections. Their effectiveness is being undermined by antimicrobial resistance.

Swiss-based Juvabis are currently progressing a new type of aminoglycoside in phase 1 clinical trials. The World Health Organization considers that aminoglycosides should be stocked by every major hospital in the world, calling them “Essential Medicines”. Medical doctors rely on aminoglycosides being extremely efficient and life-saving drugs. But, as Dr Sven Hobbie, Founding CEO of Juvabis points out, “for life-threatening infections common also in Europe, like Acinetobacter bacteria, current aminoglycosides simply don’t work in one of every two patients. In some countries with widespread resistance they do not work at all.” Hobbie hopes that recent breakthroughs in Juvabis will “ensure that doctors will continue to make use of this truly amazing class of drugs whenever they need them to save human lives.”

A long overdue breakthrough

Aminoglycosides were first discovered in the 1940s and have helped to rapidly reduce mortality rates around the world ever since. As Hobbie explains, “since 1957, all new aminoglycosides brought to market for improving the treatment of patients have been minor modifications of what was already available before. We’re the first company introducing the next great breakthrough.”

For some, just relying on “known” antibiotic classes might not go far enough and there remains a need for completely new types of drug. “Hopefully the industry will also find totally new types of antibiotic in the next 20 years. In the meantime, our “best-in-class” drug combines the best of both worlds: a much needed, overdue innovation that works also against superbugs and, at the same time, a safe-bet in a tried-and-tested, class of drugs that doctors will rely on”, points out Hobbie.

European collaboration

IMI-ENABLE is a European Commission funded group that brings together pharmaceutical companies, academics and biotech companies to collaborate in the development of new drugs. Proposals have to meet strict criteria, fulfil key clinical milestones and undergo extensive scrutiny on the way.

Thanks to this collaboration Juvabis have made very fast progress, bringing their new drug to Clinical Phase 1 in less than four years.

“From many points of view, we are de-risked and a safe investment,” explains Hobbie. The funding from IMI-ENABLE will support the development of the drug through phase 1 trials. Now the company is offering an opportunity for investment and collaboration to progress into clinical phase 2.

While there is still some way to go before the drug can make it into every major hospital around the world – the team are quietly optimistic that there is a promising new life for aminoglycosides.

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