Ciaran Murray

Alderley Park-based Infex Therapeutics has taken another step forward in progressing MET-X, its new treatment to tackle super bugs that patients around the world become vulnerable to when suffering from urinary tract infections.

The drug development company has awarded a contract to Pharmaron to manufacture the patented molecule Infex has created. The work will be done at Pharmaron’s plant in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire and on completion, MET-X will go through toxicology screening and stability testing before entering phase one clinical trials at the Liverpool University Hospital Foundation Trust Clinical Research Facility in 2022.

MET-X is a novel therapy to help restore the function of antibiotics that have become ineffective because of drug resistance. It has been designed to combat the spread of MBL enzymes, which disable the ability of an antibiotic to kill the bacteria. The spread of MBL enzymes has the potential to greatly diminish the number of treatment options for super bugs such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

When used in combination with antibiotics, MET-X restores their function versus multiple resistant organisms. The patented molecule was developed at Alderley Park following three years of preclinical research at Infex, which in-licensed the program from Swedish company Medivir AB.


Peter Jackson, Executive Director, Infex Therapeutics, said: “We are delighted to have reached this milestone and see MET-X progress towards clinical trials. Our mission is to overcome resistance mechanisms and develop new treatments for serious infections. MET-X is our first MBL inhibitor and, we hope, the most effective broad-spectrum therapy against the emerging class of superbugs that are particularly prevalent in India and China. The microbes have evolved so that they produce an enzyme that uses the metal Zinc to inactivate existing β-lactam antibiotics. This renders some of the most widely-used drugs such as meropenem and imipenem ineffective, and MET-X has been shown in lab studies to restore the activity of these important treatments.”

Bacteria containing MBL enzymes represent a serious threat to global public health. One variant, known as NDM-1, has already caused significant fatalities due to resistant infections of the blood, urinary tract, lungs and wounds since first being identified in 2008.

“Pharmaron is delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Infex on the CMC support for the MET-X program and so to make a contribution to combatting the growing issue of bacterial resistance that the WHO has highlighted,” said Stephen Lewinton, SVP Senior UK Operations.

The MET-X program is backed by iiCON, the infectious disease consortium led by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, supported by the Strength in Places Fund from UKRI.