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Paper describes research targeting bacterial virulence via the MvfR pathway as a means to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with these infections August 21, 2014 02:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Spero Therapeutics, LLC, a biopharmaceutical company founded to develop novel therapies for treatment of bacterial infections, announced the publication of a paper available online today and in the August issue of the journal PLoS Pathogens that describes the identification and optimization of novel, small molecule compounds designed to silence the bacterial MVfR (PqsR) pathway, known to control virulence of the opportunistic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa. These new compounds effectively blocked the pathogen both in vitro and in vivo and are the first known to restrict the ability of bacteria to form antibiotic-tolerant cells. Consequently they proved to be very effective at preventing persistent infection in infectious disease models.

"The MVfR pathway has an important role in acute virulence and in the persistence of serious bacterial infections"

Infections caused by Gram-negative bacterial pathogens are becoming increasingly difficult to treat due to resistance to current antibacterial drugs and there are few new, effective compounds in development that address these antibiotic-resistant strains. There is an urgent need to identify new antimicrobial drugs that will help circumvent the current drug resistance crisis. Bacterial pathogens often develop resistance to antibiotic drugs that target bacterial growth or viability. However this paper provides evidence that a strategy to specifically target virulence pathways, non-essential for growth, could open avenues for new therapeutic means and potentially limit selection for resistance. "Virulence targeted anti-infective drug development programs have the potential to be paradigm changing in the treatment of serious infections," said Tom Parr, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Spero. "We are delighted to be working with Dr. Rahme, a leader in the field, and congratulate her on the publication of this important work." "The MVfR pathway has an important role in acute virulence and in the persistence of serious bacterial infections," said Laurence Rahme, Ph.D., Scientific Founder and Advisor at Spero. "Our work supports the idea that modulators of this pathway can have a profound therapeutic effect and I am excited to collaborate with Spero to bring MvfR inhibitors into further clinical development in an effort to address this urgent public health issue." The paper will be available on the News page of the Spero website (
  • "Identification of Anti-Virulence Compounds that Disrupt Quorum-Sensing Regulated Acute and Persistent Pathogenicity" authored by Spero scientific advisor and company co-founder Laurence Rahme and colleagues Melissa Starkey, Francois Lepine, Damien Maura, Arunava Bandyopadhaya, Biljana Lesic, Jianxin He, Tomoe Kitao, Valeria Righi, Sylvain Milot, Aria Tzika.
About Spero Spero is a product-focused biopharmaceutical company developing a pipeline of novel treatments for bacterial infections and is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Spero's MvfR inhibitor program works differently from existing antibiotics by targeting a pathway involved in two critical bacterial processes: virulence and persistence. Spero's drug candidates may uniquely reduce the morbidity caused by severe infections and promote their clearance, including in bacterial strains highly resistant to even the most potent existing antibiotics. For more information, please visit  


Spero Therapeutics:
Ankit Mahadevia, M.D., 617-588-2600
Venture Partner at Atlas Ventures
Suda Communications LLC
Maureen L. Suda, 585-387-9248  


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