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BioVersys receives funding in the fight against tuberculosis

01.03.2021

The Basel-based pharma company BioVersys has received 2.7 million euros in funding alongside two partners. This financing serves to help set up a Phase 2a trial to investigate a drug candidate that aims to combat tuberculosis. Basel is the ideal location for the development of such innovations.

Jens Eckstein

The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) program, in which Switzerland is also involved, facilitates clinical trials for the development of drugs and vaccines. The EDCTP has now provided funding of 2.7 million euros to the Basel-based firm BioVersys and its two partners, namely the TASK Foundation and GSK, as detailed in a  press release. The aim here is to finance a clinical Phase 2a study for the drug candidate BVL-GSK098, which BioVersys has developed to fight tuberculosis. For this, BVL-GSK098 will be tested in combination with the antibiotic ethionamid (Eto) with the aim of increasing its activity. At the moment, a Phase 1 trial is in progress.

BioVersys develops drug candidates on the basis of small molecules that can be used to treat infections arising as a result of resistant pathogens. In so doing, the company is contributing to the fight against the increasingly prevalent problem of antibiotic resistance. The World Health Organization (WHO) has pinned its hopes on Eto as it seeks to combat multi-resistant strains of tuberculosis, the press release reveals.

Basel Area Business & Innovation, the investment and innovation promotion agency for the canton of Basel, has also signaled its commitment to the cause of fighting antibiotic resistance. In a video produced by the Technologiepark Basel, Professor Christoph Dehio from the Biozentrum at the University of Basel indicates that the development of new active substances effective against multi-resistant germs has stagnated over recent decades. Dehio is also the Director of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) AntiResist, which is driving forward the development of innovative antibiotics that are effective against multi-resistant germs. “Switzerland as a research location, with Basel as its center, offers ideal conditions for this ambitious, interdisciplinary research project”, Dehio explains.

The Basel-based Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE), which forms part of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), is likewise involved in this project. In fact, BioVersys was established as a spin-off from the D-BSSE and is headquartered at the Technologiepark Basel, where a total of 230 researchers work. “We find the necessary infrastructure here to conduct world-class research”, explains Marc Gitzinger, founder and CEO of BioVersys, in the video. He adds: “In collaboration with projects like AntiResist, both sides benefit”. However, it will still take some time until such innovations can be used in practice, with companies such as BioVersys functioning as a link between universities and the market. With regard to the framework conditions required for this, Gitzinger comments: “Basel offers one of the world’s best locations. The network of world-class universities, pharma and access to venture capital is essential and works well”. His company has already created many jobs and intends to grow further with the aim of giving something back to the region.

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