Immunotherapy to combat the hospital bug Staphylococcus aureus

GO-Bio 3 – PD Dr. Knut Ohlsen – Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB), University of Würzburg

Krankenhausflur mit Ärzten, Pfelgern und Patienten

Recipient: Institute for Molecular Infection Biology (IMIB), University of Würzburg
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.06.2010 - 31.05.2014, 2.848.098 Euro)


Every year in Europe, more than four million patients fall victim to a bacterial infection during a stay in hospital. The pathogen most frequently responsible for hospital infections is the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Up to 50% of these pathogens have become resistant to treatment with standard antibiotics, and the issue represents a growing challenge for industrialised countries. If immuno-compromised or elderly people come into contact with these multi-resistant germs, it can result in the death of the patient. Knut Ohlsen and his research team are hoping to combat this with an antibody-based immunotherapy approach that helps the patient’s own immune system to tackle the infection. The antibody is directed against and binds to specific proteins of the bacterium. In the mouse model, the natural course of the disease could be prevented, and mortality was reduced.

In their GO-Bio project, the team of scientists headed by Ohlsen is planning to humanise the mouse antibody as well as develop a drug candidate up to clinical testing. Other drug development stages up to market maturity will be pursued together with a strategic partner from the pharmaceutical industry. Long-term plans include the founding of company that will employ the first of these antibodies as a basis for immunotherapies against infectious agents.