News Scan for Jan 13, 2022

First human trial for new E coli drug
More H5N6 avian flu cases, deaths

CRISPR-based E coli drug gets go-ahead for first human trial

Danish microbiome technology company SNIPR Biome ApS announced this week that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved the company's application to initiate the first human clinical trial of its CRISPR-based drug for preventing Escherichia coli infections in cancer patients.

The clinical trial for SNIPR001, which uses CRISPR/Cas DNA editing technology to selectively target and eradicate E coli bacteria in the gut and prevent translocation of the bacteria to the bloodstream while leaving other commensal bacteria unaffected, will investigate safety and tolerability of the drug in healthy volunteers. Investigators will also evaluate the effect of SNIPR001 on gut E coli.

Patients with cancer of the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes are at increased risk of life-threatening bloodstream infections because of immune-suppressing chemotherapy treatments and pathogen translocation from the gut, and E coli can pose a heightened risk for such infections.

Company officials say they believe the approach could transform the way E coli infections are prevented and treated, in cancer wards and beyond.

"Based on our pre-clinical data with SNIPR001, we believe that our technology holds a huge potential in designing tomorrow's CRISPR-based medicines against life-threatening infections and to modulate microbiome-associated diseases," Milan Zdravkovic, MD, PhD, chief medical officer at SNIPR Biome, said in a company press release.

SNIPR Biome received $3.9 million in funding from CARB-X (the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator) to develop SNIPR001 in May 2021.
Jan 11 SNIPR Biome press release


H5N6 avian flu sickens 5 more in China, 2 fatally

China reported five more human H5N6 avian flu cases in three provinces, all but one in people who had contact with poultry, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today in a statement.

All are adults with illness onsets in December 2021, ranging in age from 28 to 75 years old. Two men from different cities in Sichuan province died from their infections. The cases also include two men from the same city in Guangxi province who are hospitalized in serious or critical condition. The fifth person is a woman from Zhejiang province who is listed in critical condition.

All had contact with domestic or dead poultry, except for one of the men from Guangxi province. His exposure is pending confirmation.

Since 2014, China has reported 63 human cases, but last year the country reported a sharp rise. The latest cases push the number of cases for 2021 to 36. Earlier this week, officials reported the first case of 2022.

H5N6 infections are often severe or fatal. The virus has been detected in birds in four Asian countries, but China and Laos are the only ones that have reported human cases.
Jan 13 CHP statement
Jan 10 CIDRAP News scan

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