TAXIS Pharmaceuticals awarded $2.67M NIH grant to for R&D on combating antibiotic-resistant pneumonia

TAXIS Pharmaceuticals, a North Brunswick-based clinical stage company developing new classes of anti-resistance agents to treat life-threatening, multidrug-resistant bacterial infections, received a $2.67 million grant, to be awarded over three years, from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, one of the institutes of the National Institutes of Health.

The funding will allow TAXIS Pharmaceuticals to complete preclinical research on the first of its investigational efflux pump inhibitors — compounds that are intended to inhibit the bacterial cellular processes that cause antibiotic resistance, enabling the antibiotics to be effective in fighting off the bacteria they target.

The focus will combine the company’s EPI compound with the FDA-approved antibiotic levofloxacin, commonly used to treat bronchitis and sinus infections. This approach aims to bolster the antibiotic’s efficacy against resistant bacterial strains.

“This grant is an incredibly important milestone on the path to developing our EPIs and beginning first-in-human clinical trials. By harnessing the synergy between our compounds and existing antibiotics, we aspire to breathe new life into conventional treatments and, ultimately, save lives,” Gregory Mario, CEO and president of TAXIS Pharmaceuticals, said. “The NIH grant is further validation of our science and of the value our EPIs can deliver to communities around the world.”

The company aims to complete the NIH grant requirements by the end of 2026 and submit an IND application to FDA to begin human trials shortly thereafter.

“While the utility of EPIs has previously been explored in fields such as oncology, no such agents have thus far been FDA-approved, and very little was done to advance the science targeting prokaryotic infectious conditions,” Ajit Parhi, principal investigator of the project and chief scientific officer at TAXIS, said. “We believe our novel approach to pairing EPIs with already-approved antibiotics shows great potential and overcomes previous EPI concerns relating to toxicity. The implications of restoring the potency and efficacy of antibiotics no longer viable in fighting diseases are huge — for patients, society, payers and manufacturers.”