Written by Seamus Kelleher.
Chances are you’ve developed a bacterial infection at some point in your life, were prescribed standard antibiotics, and quickly returned to normal health. But it’s not always that easy. Bacteria generate a protective hideout called a biofilm that acts as a shield against antibiotics, allowing them to better survive and persist in the body. These biofilms have continued to baffle the medical community, but ProclaRx in Athens, Ohio, is solving the riddle.
“Pathogenic bacteria build biofilms around themselves to stay protected from the human immune system. They also keep out antibiotic treatments and render them far less effective,” said Dr. Joseph D. Kittle, CEO of ProclaRx. “You’ll see patients be treated with an antibiotic, seemingly regain their health, and then a few weeks later, they’re sick again. Biofilms are pesky and a problem we want to solve for patients. We call ourselves the anti-biofilm company.”
The research team behind ProclaRx started off with the simple goal of better understanding biofilms. Their quest for increased comprehension turned into a breakthrough discovery in the understanding of biofilm structure. They identified a compound that could disrupt the seemingly impermeable biofilms, leaving the bacteria susceptible to antibiotic therapies and a patient’s natural immune system. The team of researchers then licensed their technology exclusively to ProclaRx with the intent to progress towards commercialization.
“We’re so excited for the potential of this technology and what it will mean to medicine,” said Dr. Kittle. “We continue to work with brilliant scientists and the inventors of this technology to refine anti-biofilm therapeutics. We’re aiming to completely change the way doctors treat persistent infections here in the U.S. and worldwide. We have labs in Columbus and Athens and are absolutely thrilled with all the support we’ve received.”
ProclaRx works closely with The Ohio University Innovation Center and TechGrowth Ohio, both southeast Ohio regional partners of Ohio Third Frontier, to drive the technology towards commercial viability and attract future investment. Dr. Kittle says he views the support of these organizations as representative of Ohio’s entrepreneurial climate as a whole, and critical to ProclaRx’s current and future success.
“I’ve had experience in entrepreneurship in other states, and while there are pros elsewhere, there’s something unique about Ohio. There’s a different sort of support that comes from the people here. People in our community genuinely want to see us succeed commercially, and to create jobs and opportunity here,” said Dr. Kittle. “The support of our state universities and Ohio Third Frontier is unique to anything I’ve experienced. It’s important to our team that we succeed and validate their efforts.”