Avidly specific

How AvidBiotics is taking on the microbiome with bactericidal peptides.

With its first two programs headed for the clinic next year, AvidBiotics Corp. is seeing the fruits of its move to human therapeutics from food safety and animal health. Using engineered peptides, the company has built two platforms that give it plays in the ever-growing fields of the microbiome and CAR T cells.

The platforms, dubbed Avidocin and convertibleCAR, share few features, save the use of protein engineering to create compounds that aim to beat the competition on specificity and safety.

The bulk of AvidBiotics’ effort has gone to Avidocin, its flagship system for designing antimicrobial peptides to treat or prevent bacterial infections without harming the microbiome.

Last month in Science Translational Medicine, AvidBiotics published mechanistic data on a prototype Avidocin targeting Clostridium difficile. The paper showed the compound selectively killed specific strains, identified the bacterial target, and presented evidence of its low propensity to induce resistance.

Avidocins are engineered versions of R-type bacteriocins -- natural antimicrobial peptides secreted by bacteria to eliminate competing strains. The molecules are structured as contractile sheaths that inject their cores through the bacterial membrane of targeted strains specifically bound by the peptide's six tail fibers (see "Antimicrobial Avidity").

Figure: Antimicrobial avidity


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