A lifeline for the world

Supporting Discuva and Roche in their vital collaboration to find new antibiotics.

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The challenge

Along with global warming and terrorism, the increase of multi-drug resistant bacteria is judged to be one of the three greatest threats to humankind. For nearly a century we have been dependent on antibiotics for treating infections and providing post-surgery protection. Now the increase of highly infectious resistant bacteria means there’s a very real risk our grandchildren might not be able to benefit from antibiotics – leaving society exposed to levels of disease and mortality not experienced since the discovery of penicillin.

Discuva, a Cambridge-based biotechnology company, is coming to the rescue with a unique platform, which expedites the discovery of new antibiotics that could counter these drug-resistant bacteria. Their SATIN (Selective Antibiotic Target IdentificatioN) platform is based around selection of the best chemistry and its refinement to obtain new low resistance antibiotics.

The potential of Discuva’s next-generation SATIN platform attracted the attention of Swiss-based Roche, the world’s largest biotech company. Taylor Vinters managed the deal that now sees Discuva collaborating with Roche to expand and accelerate this lifeline programme.

Our support

David Williams, CEO of Discuva, formed his new company in 2011. We had already supported his previous business, so he had no hesitation in choosing Taylor Vinters from the outset. We introduced Discuva to a cornerstone funder and took care of his legal needs for IP, property and employment. When the collaboration with Roche was first suggested, David Williams turned to Taylor Vinters once again.

“There was simply no reason to choose anyone else,” he said, “based on my previous experience with Taylor Vinters, their track record, credentials and work done for us to date.”

The agreement secured Discuva an initial payment of $16 million, with research fees and payments of multiple programmes of up to $175 million per product when key milestones are reached. Discuva is also eligible for royalties on sales of products resulting from the collaboration, reaching double digit percentages.

Patrick Farrant, our Head of Technology, led the team advising Discuva on the Roche deal, supported by Dr David Rainford. Patrick said, “It’s been an exciting journey working alongside David Williams and the world-class team at Discuva. We’re proud to support such a revolutionary business, whose new antibiotics will change the way medical professionals worldwide treat diseases.”

Reflecting on the role Taylor Vinters played in the negotiations, David Williams said, “It was a pleasure to work with such an outstanding legal team, who provided top-level support and advice throughout the whole transaction process with our new partners.”

Making great things happen

David Williams, CEO of Discuva, said: “We are delighted to be working with the team at Roche. The combination of Discuva’s leading-edge technologies with Roche’s extensive discover and development expertise create a real force for changing the way new and innovative medicines are created for patients.”

The Head of Infectious Diseases for Roche during the project, said: “Multi-drug resistant bacteria have become a genuine threat to public health worldwide. We are pleased to be collaborating with the very experienced team at Discuva, and using their unique technology platform to accelerate our efforts in bringing forward antibiotic drug candidates quickly to help patients in need.”

It’s estimated that more than two million patients are affected by drug-resistant infections each year in the USA, of which at least 23,000 die. In the EU at least 25,000 patients die each year from infections due to bacteria that are resistant to many medicines. This collaboration between Discuva and Roche brings the reassuring prospect that lives can be saved by new antibiotics, when the current generation of drugs are no longer effective.

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