Alderley Park, Cheshire Infex Therapeutics has awarded a £1m contract to Lonza to help progress its RESP-X program, a novel therapy which targets serious recurrent respiratory infections in patients with damaged lung functions.

RESP-X is expected to enter clinical trials at the Liverpool University Hospital Foundation Trust Clinical Research Facility in November this year.

Lonza, the Swiss-owned contract manufacturing company, will manufacture a therapeutic antibody for the program in its plant in Slough, UK.

RESP-X is an anti-virulence therapy in-licensed from Japanese pharma company Shionogi. It is designed to help the body tackle Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a hard to treat drug-resistant pathogen recognised by the WHO as a critical threat to human health. A novel humanised monoclonal antibody, RESP-X does not kill bacteria directly but deactivates a mechanism that prevents the immune system from acting against the infection.

Dr Peter Jackson, executive director of Infex Therapeutics, said: “Lonza is recognised as a global leader in the manufacture of therapeutic antibodies and we have negotiated this agreement that will provide access to their manufacturing plant within the timeline we need.

“Lonza was involved in an earlier stage of the program, producing pre-clinical material at its facility in Singapore, and we’re very pleased to be able to bring this larger scale body of manufacturing to Lonza’s facility in the UK.

“RESP-X is designed as a preventative treatment against non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, a long-term condition where the airways of the lungs become abnormally widened, leading to a build-up of excess mucus that can make the lungs more vulnerable to infection. Patients can become chronically infected with Pseudomonas, significantly reducing their quality of life. There is high, unmet need, with millions of patients worldwide at risk of this condition, and no approved preventative therapy.”

Jeetendra Vaghjiani, Director Commercial Development, Mammalian at Lonza stated: “We are proud to be selected as Infex’s manufacturing and development partner for this project. The mission of Infex is an important one and we are happy to collaborate with Infex in this battle against serious infectious disease.”

The RESP-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.