Dr. Slava Epstein
Dr. Kim Lewis
TSC MEMBER INSTITUTION(S):
National Science Foundation
NOVOBIOTIC PHARMACEUTICALS, LLC
ABOUT THE COMPANY:
NovoBiotic Pharmaceuticals is a privately held, early stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel antibiotics.
The Company’s founding scientists, Northeastern University professors Kim Lewis, Ph.D., and Slava Epstein, Ph.D., discovered a unique, proprietary method to isolate and cultivate previously unculturable microorganisms in the laboratory, thereby addressing a 70 year old problem in microbiology, and giving NovoBiotic sole access to a virtually unlimited and as yet unexploited source of novel natural product compound diversity.
This unique access to natural product diversity represents one of the most valuable assets for modern drug discovery. The company intends to identify new antibiotics from these novel sources. Longer term, the company will leverage the value of this unique, microbe-derived chemical diversity in therapeutic areas such as oncology, atherosclerosis, and inflammatory diseases.
UNIVERSITY-BASED RESEARCH CONNECTION:
While 70% of all marketed antibiotics are derived from microorganisms, few new class of antibiotics have been introduced since the 1960s and large pharmaceutical companies have exhausted the <1% of bacteria/fungi that are accessible for drug discovery using traditional culture techniques. The majority of microorganisms in nature that are potentially novel drug sources remain unculturable, and therefore inaccessible for novel antibiotic discovery. The lack of novel organisms has resulted in a lack of chemical novelty, the foundation of new drug compounds.
NovoBiotic founders Drs. Lewis and Epstein developed a novel diffusion chamber technology, published in Science in 2002 (Science 296:1127), enabling the isolation and culture of previously unculturable microorganisms derived from sources in nature (for example, soil, or marine sediment.). The Cultursys™ chamber allows the diffusion of growth-sustaining materials from the organisms’ natural environment but restricts the movement of cells.
The Cultursys system permits identification, isolation, and further laboratory cultivation of previously unculturable organisms for novel antibiotic discovery. Thus far, NovoBiotic has cultured thousands of novel microorganisms and has successfully “domesticated” these strains to grow under normal laboratory conditions. The Company has a library of such organisms, and has validated their uniqueness by 16S rDNA analysis. The Cultursys™ chamber technology provides a 30 to 500-fold improvement in the isolation rate of microorganisms from the environment.
ROLE OF FEDERAL RESEARCH FUNDING:
The initial research and development was undertaken at the Northestern University with a $65,723 grant from the National Science Foundation.
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