Trius has developed a proprietary platform called focused antisense screening technology, or FAST, which uses antisense technology to identify suitable bacterial drug targets. We have also built state-of-the-art capabilities in structure based drug design, or SBDD. These proprietary capabilities enable us to rapidly identify optimal bacterial targets and subsequently design highly potent and selective small molecule inhibitors. These can be used to develop new and differentiated antibiotics. We have used these capabilities as the basis for our 2 current preclinical programs, GyrB/ParE and MurB. In September 2008, we were awarded up to $27.7 million to support the GyrB/ParE program through a procurement contract of up to five years with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, a part of the NIH. The MurB program is funded by a three year contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense. In this program, we are working with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to discover novel antibacterial agents that target MurB, an essential bacterial cell wall enzyme.
The FAST platform consists of a set of engineered bacterial strains containing antisense DNA fragments whose synthesis can be regulated to inhibit the production of a targeted protein. We have demonstrated that compounds that act on the protein down regulated in the FAST antisense strain require a significantly lower concentration of the test compound to inhibit bacterial growth. We have developed FAST strains for a set of over 20 essential bacterial specific targets selected for the likelihood of discovering broad-spectrum antibacterial agents. We have filed patent applications to protect our FAST technology, including the compounds that act on the targets we have identified.
Using structural based drug design (SBDD), we obtain the structural information for the target enzymes of multiple bacterial pathogens to design compounds that bind specifically to the intended bacterial target. We also use this information to design important drug properties including solubility and reduced serum binding.