Biopharmaceutical firm Summit Therapeutics has discovered new antibiotic compounds that kill gonorrhoea bacteria, the company announced on Tuesday.
The discovery was made through Summit's infectious diseases technology platform and early tests have shown the new compounds have a high potency against strains of gonorrhoea with no development of resistance identified.

David Roblin, president of research and development at Summit Therapeutics, said: “Without truly novel mechanism antibacterial drugs we cannot address the issue of antimicrobial resistance. Nowhere is this need more obvious than in gonorrhoea, where increasing resistance and a lack of innovation means we are now nearing an era of untreatable disease. Tackling this disease therefore fits squarely within Summit's strategic vision: the development of new mechanism therapies designed to treat specific diseases.”

Gonorrhoea has been identified as a high priority pathogen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and as one of three urgent threats by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are approximately 106m new cases of the disease per year according to estimates from the WHO, with at least 30% of the cases being resistant to an antibiotic currently being used as a treatment, which demonstrates the potential value of Summit's discovery.

“We believe that these data demonstrate the power of our recently acquired technology platform to design and generate a pipeline of new mechanism antibiotics. This combines perfectly with our development capabilities and expertise already built in advancing ridinilazole, our late-stage precision antibiotic for C. difficile infection,” said Roblin.

The technology platform combines transposon technology and bioinformatics to create and screen compounds against pathogen libraries and can be used to identify bacterial targets, elucidate mechanisms of action and generate potential antibiotic candidates.

Summit aims to select a candidate from the gonorrhoea programme for IND enabling studies later this year and believes that the identified compounds have the potential to produce a new front-line therapy for the disease.

As of 1430 GMT, Summit Therapeutics' shares were up 4.00% at 190.00p.