The research is to be conducted by Anacor Pharmaceuticals, together with Colorado State University (CSU) and the University of California at Berkeley, under a 3 1/2 year contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency worth $13.5 million.
"Increasing resistance to existing antibiotics has created a critical need for new classes of antibiotics," said David Perry, Anacor's chief executive officer. "We are pleased that DTRA recognizes the potential of Anacor's innovative boron chemistry, and we are looking forward to collaborating with DTRA, CSU and UC Berkeley on this important research."
Anacor gave no information on the pathogens DTRA has identified as priorities for new antibiotics but said new classes of boron-containing antibiotics would be considered for further development by DTRA "as part of ongoing programs to improve medical counter-measures against biological threats."
Boron is a naturally occurring element that is ingested frequently through consumption of fruits, vegetables, milk and coffee, the company said, with two attributes that give compounds drug-like properties.
"First, boron-based compounds have a unique geometry that allows them to have two distinct shapes, giving boron-based drugs the ability to interact with biological targets in novel ways and can address targets not amenable to intervention by traditional carbon-based compounds. Second, boron's reactivity allows boron-based compounds to interact with a biological target to create a change that is specific to a particular disease or condition."