Hackensack Meridian Health Invests in Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, Aiming to Kill 'Superbugs' as Part of Bear's Den Innovation Program

Hackensack Meridian Health Invests in Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, Aiming to Kill 'Superbugs' as Part of Bear's Den Innovation Program

EDISON, N.J., Dec. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Hackensack Meridian Health has invested in the clinical-stage biotechnology company  Adaptive Phage Therapeutics (APT), as part of the health network's successful innovation program, the Bear's Den.

The investment is the third external company that has been funded by Hackensack Meridian Health.

"The rise of multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogenic bacteria is a growing challenge for all health care organizations treating all kinds of different infections," said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. "The Bear's Den program has led to investment in a key area affecting the future of medicine worldwide."

"As bacteria continue to evolve, an approach that can adapt, such as phage therapy offered by APT has become the most promising alternative to dealing with the mounting crisis of antibiotic resistance," said Greg Merril, chief executive officer and co-founder of APT. "The high level of interest from strategic and financial investors in support of our expanding clinical pipeline validates the potential phage therapy holds for patients."

In response to urgent requests from physicians caring for patients with severe infections due to multi-drug resistant pathogens, APT has provided PhageBank therapy to more than 20 patients under compassionate use.

The "post-antibiotic era" is already here, CDC Director Robert Redfield wrote recently, as part of the agency's most recent report on the subject. Some 2.8 million people are infected annually – and more than 35,000 die every year, the agency said. 

In 2017, APT acquired the world-wide exclusive commercial rights to PhageBank and related technologies, including an innovative high throughput phage susceptibility test, known as the HRQT companion diagnostic, from the U.S. Navy. Phages are viruses that have co-evolved with bacteria and are the most prolific natural killers of bacteria on earth – including 'superbugs' that have become resistant to all known antibiotic drugs. PhageBank is a broad-spectrum collection of phages that can be matched, on a patient-specific basis, to a targeted pathogen. APT is advancing the technology through innovation in bioinformatics, rapid phage-bacteria matching and phage purification methods that could result in an approach capable of providing a precision-matched therapy instantly upon the diagnosis of a drug-resistant pathogen. Over time, PhageBank has been shown to increase in spectrum of coverage, adapting to the resistance that is common with bacterial evolution.

Hackensack Meridian Health has also been part of key research in the fight against the stubborn germs. David S. Perlin, Ph.D., the chief scientific officer and senior vice president, of the Hackensack Meridian Health Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), said scientists working together is key to tackling the problem.

"At the Center for Discovery and Innovation, we have been highly engaged in creating novel solutions to prevent and overcome deadly multidrug resistant infections," said Dr. Perlin. "As we see in reports from the CDC and in headlines like the recent New York Times article, this is a burgeoning global threat. We welcome the investment and collaboration with partners such as APT, who are working alongside us to combat it."

Launched in 2017, Bear's Den features a panel of experts, including Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett, leading physicians, key network executives, venture capitalists, patent attorneys, who gather regularly to vet proposals from entrepreneurs. The health network's novel incubator has vetted many products and strategies to streamline care delivery, reduce infections, lower hospital readmissions and help patients partner in their care with physicians.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children's hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals – JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 34,100 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network's notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker's Healthcare's "150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019" list.

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org

Adaptive Phage Therapeutics, Inc. (APT) is a clinical-stage company founded to provide an effective therapeutic response to the global rise of multi-drug resistant (MDR) pathogenic bacteria. APT's core asset is a large and continually expanding phage library (PhageBank) deployed with a companion diagnostic to achieve rapid response and cost-effective therapy for otherwise recalcitrant bacterial infections. The technology was developed by the biodefense program of U.S. Department of Defense. APT acquired the world-wide exclusive commercial rights in 2017. Under the FDA emergency Investigational New Drug (eIND) allowance, APT has provided investigational PhageBank therapy to treat more than 20 critically ill patients in which standard-of-care antibiotics has failed. For more information, visit http://www.aphage.com.

The Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), a newly established member of Hackensack Meridian Health, seeks to translate current innovations in science to improve clinical outcomes for patients with cancer, infectious diseases and other life-threatening and disabling conditions. The CDI, housed in a fully renovated state-of-the-art facility, offers world-class researchers a support infrastructure and culture of discovery that promotes science innovation and rapid translation to the clinic.

John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center is New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive center dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, management, research, screenings, and preventive care as well as survivorship of patients with all types of cancers. The 14 specialized divisions covering the complete spectrum of cancer care have developed a close-knit team of medical, research, nursing, and support staff with specialized expertise that translates into more advanced, focused care for all patients. Each year, more people in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area turn to John Theurer Cancer Center for cancer care than to any other facility in New Jersey. Housed within Hackensack University Medical Center, a 775-bed not-for-profit teaching, tertiary care, and research hospital, John Theurer Cancer Center provides state-of-the-art technological advances, compassionate care, research innovations, medical expertise, and a full range of aftercare services that distinguish John Theurer Cancer Center from other facilities. For additional information, please visit www.jtcancercenter.org.

SOURCE Hackensack Meridian Health

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