Biosergen AS is the brainchild of a group of scientists at NTNU and SINTEF who have been studying the inner life of the soil bacterium Streptomyces noursei in detail. These bacteria produce Nystatin, an antibiotic that is used in medicines to treat fungal infections in human beings.
The company will use gene technology to develop analogues of the Nystatin molecule that are less toxic than today’s antifungal antibiotics and that will thus have fewer side-effects. This will help HIV victims, cancer patients and organ transplantees; these are all groups of patients whose weakened immune response system leaves them more liable to suffer serious fungal infections.
Biosergen expects to invest NOK 50 – 80 million in developing its new antibiotic. However, sales in this sector can reach dizzying heights; the part of the antibiotics market being targeted by Biosergen is currently worth around USD 4.3 billion a year, and this amount is expected to double by 2012.