Terra Bioforge was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43AI174407 to discover and engineer new fernene triterpene chemical analogues of enfumafungin. Belonging to a new class of antifungal compounds called fungerps, enfumafungin is the precursor for Ibrexafungerp which is a first-in-class treatment for candidiasis. With multidrug-resistant fungal infections on the rise a second generation of enfumafungin-like antifungal analogs is needed to support development of additional therapies.
Enabled by correlative analyses of genomic and metabolomic data from over 2,500 fungi, enfumafungin-like in silico genetic information will be turned into new molecules with an optimized heterologous expression platform for targeted discovery. Producing higher titers faster facilitates rapid identification of compounds exhibiting differentiated and potent antifungal activity. By finding new drug analogs, Terra Bioforge aims to demonstrate how the application of category-defining synthetic biology tools accelerate natural product discovery and production.
Terra Bioforge will partner with longtime collaborators and co-founders Profs. Nancy Keller (UW-Madison) and Neil Kelleher (Northwestern) to complete this research.