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Jul 04, 2011
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

ContraFect: Bringing down the walls

ContraFect developing lysins to help antibiotics defeat drug-resistant bacteria

ContraFect Corp. believes a class of enzymes called lysins, which break open the cell walls of Gram-positive bacteria, could enhance the efficacy of low doses of conventional antibiotics while avoiding side effects and the development of resistance.

Lysins cleave bonds in the bacterial cell wall's peptidoglycan to cause cytolysis. The peptidoglycan is a mesh-like layer of sugars and amino acids that acts as the structural component of the cell wall. Lysins, also called peptidoglycan hydrolases, naturally occur in bacteriophages, which use them to punch a hole in the host bacterium's cell wall to release progeny virions.

The enzymes are potent, bind to highly conserved targets on bacteria and act quickly to kill the bugs, which ContraFect believes renders the bacteria incapable of developing resistance.

"We have seen no resistance develop against any of our lysins in vitro and in vivo," said Barry Kappel, VP of business development.

While the idea of using phages to treat bacterial infections has been around since the 1930s, the strategy fell out of favor with the advent of...

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