New research has discovered that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a significant upsurge in metallo-β-lactamase (MBL) infections.

A newly released paper, Superinfections caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales in hospitalized patients with COVID-19: a multicentre observational study from Italy (CREVID Study), describes carbapenem-resistant Enterobacterales (CRE) co-infections in 123 COVID-19 patients. The study included patients admitted to 12 Italian hospitals from March to December 2020 who developed a superinfection caused by CRE.

The study found that 44% of infections were caused by MBL-producers (87% of which contained NDM). It concluded by noting that infections by CRE were associated with a high risk of 30 day mortality in patients with COVID-19. HAP/VAP was the strongest predictor of death in these patients. The proportion of NDM-producers is rising.

Various types of Enterobacterales (including KlebsiellaE. coliSerratia, and Proteus) are listed as critical-priority pathogens by The World Health Organization (WHO), Centres for Disease Control (CDC), and other international health organisations. However, there is a major gap in clinical-stage therapeutics to treat CRE infections. According to the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), there are only 7 late-stage or recently approved products covering a WHO Critical pathogen.

Infex Therapeutics is developing MET-X, a metallo-β-lactamase inhibitor (MBLI). MET-X is a novel therapy designed to help restore the function of antibiotics that have become ineffective due to drug resistance caused by bacterial enzymes known as metallo-β-lactamases (MBLs) which break down β-lactam antibiotics, including carbapenems.

MET-X fills the gap in the WHO pipeline of therapeutics needed to tackle CRE infections.