Collaboration Turns the Phage on Antibiotic Resistance
Published July 25, 2017
Locus Biosciences, Inc. and the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) at North Carolina State University will collaborate to advance Locus Biosciences’ line of precision antimicrobials. BTEC has been producing research-grade material for proof-of-concept studies since 2016, but the two organizations recently agreed that BTEC would perform additional process development studies. To implement the scope of work, BTEC will re-purpose its Biosafety Level 2 (BL-2) laboratory in the BTEC Annex on Centennial Campus for containment of bacteriophages produced during microbial fermentation. BTEC is also working with NC State officials to implement Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) production of Phase 1 investigational drugs at the BTEC Annex. Locus Biosciences hopes to be the center’s first client for GMP services.
Locus Biosciences’ novel approach to precision antimicrobials works by taking advantage of an immune system present in many bacteria called the CRISPR-Cas system. The CRISPR-Cas system protects bacteria from invaders such as bacteriophages by creating a small strand of RNA called a CRISPR RNA, which matches a DNA sequence specific to a given invader. If the CRISPR RNA is matched to a complementary DNA sequence, the Cas proteins will cleave the invading DNA. Locus Biosciences designs and creates novel CRISPR RNAs and uses a powerful CRISPR-Cas system, referred to as Cascade/Cas3, that kills target bacteria by irreversibly destroying the bacterial DNA. The platform enables the design and development of powerful antimicrobials that avoid currently known antibiotic resistance mechanisms while leaving non-target bacteria unharmed.
BTEC is a unique, cross-disciplinary instructional center that provides educational and training opportunities to develop skilled professionals for the biomanufacturing industry and create the best-trained, most industry-focused workforce possible. It also performs bioprocess and analytical services using its facilities, equipment, and the expertise of its faculty and staff. For the Locus Biosciences’ project, BTEC will develop GMP-ready fermentation and purification processes using single-use disposable technologies, as well as facility decontamination procedures to minimize cross-contamination.