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Faculty Spotlight

Ryan Looper

Curza is a pharmaceutical startup company focused on small-molecule therapeutics. The company is in the early stages of developing two novel classes of antibiotics. Curza’s technology originates from the laboratories of Ryan Looper, in Chemistry, and Dustin Williams at the University of Utah. 

CARB-X – the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator – is funding Curza of Salt Lake City to support the development of a new class of antibiotics to treat a broad spectrum of life-threatening Gram-negative bacteria that are resistant to existing antibiotics.

Under the funding agreement, Curza will receive an initial award of up to $2.2 million, with the possibility of $1.8 million more from CARB-X based on the achievement of certain project milestones.

"Curza's new class of antibiotics is an exciting addition to the Powered by CARB-X portfolio as it has been decades since the last new class was approved for Gram-negative bacteria. The world urgently needs new antibiotics, rapid diagnostics, vaccines and entirely new approaches to protect us from drug-resistant bacteria," said Kevin Outterson, Executive Director of CARB-X.

Curza CEO Ryan Davies said, "We are honored to receive this prestigious CARB-X award to help advance our novel antibiotic program. This award not only recognizes the potential of our Gram-negative antibiotic program, but it will help fund its development through pre-clinical research stages."

Curza's ‘CZ-02’ lead series is designed to kill bacteria with known resistance to other ribosomal antibiotics by binding to a clinically un-drugged and highly conserved site on the bacterial ribosome. These new antibiotics' unique mechanism of action allows maximum penetration of bacterial cells leading to potent activity against drug-resistant ESKAPE pathogens.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 700,000 people die each year around the world from bacterial infections. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 23,000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacterial infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last Updated: 3/26/18