GSK hands back antibiotic candidate to Anacor Pharmaceuticals

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GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has officially ended its development of an experimental antibiotic after halting enrollment in trials for the candidate early this year, handing back the asset to Anacor Pharmaceuticals ($ANAC). Glaxo had hit the brakes on the program after microbial resistance was discovered in patients participating in a Phase IIb study of the antibiotic for treating complicated urinary tract infections, and the London-based drug giant declined to resume trials of the candidate after a preclinical investigation of the issue.

Regulators and developers are pushing for new antibiotics that can overcome bugs such as MRSA that are resistant to existing anti-bacterial remedies. And the resistance seen in GSK’s mid-stage study of the compound from Palo Alto-based Anacor raised red flags about its efficacy.

Anacor didn’t specify its plans for future development of the candidate, dubbed GSK2251052. Glaxo has parted ways with the program after winning an award of up to $94 million from the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) last year to bankroll development of the antibiotic for certain bioterror threats. Anacor said today that it plans to work with GSK, which continues to fund Anacor’s tuberculosis research, to transfer the GSK’052 program back to Anacor.

Anacor highlighted in its release that it has 6 compounds in development, including a topical anti-fungal treatment for onychomycosis and AN2788 for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

– here’s the release
– see Dow Jones Newswires‘ update

Special Report: Superbug antibiotics: New drugs advance amid R&D investment shortfall

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