Third-year Biochemist Adam Winnifrith is one of three Oxford undergraduates, whose young company Evolvere Biosciences has won the Oxford University Society Biohackathon 2021. The prize is a three-month membership of the BioEscalator, providing the students with laboratory and business support. This has already allowed them to obtain initial proof-of-concept results; they are now seeking further funding to commence the lead optimisation process.

Evolvere’s long-term vision is to make sure that no one is endangered by the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing humanity. It is predicted to become the third biggest killer globally by 2050.  Evolvere has a new way to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It envisions a method to outsmart the evolution of antibiotic resistance by administering a safe and predictable cocktail of biologic therapeutics. This platform could not only treat patients without running the risk of inducing further resistance but also enable a relatively quick generation of cocktails targeted at new strains.

Co-Founder Weronika Slesak (Biology, Worcester) explains: “The current model of an infinite race between new antibiotics and the evolution of resistance creates reimbursement hurdles, which slow down the development of new antibiotics. The system fails to prevent deaths, which already total 700,000 annually. By creating a platform for developing therapeutics that can out evolve bacteria, we hope to change the way that we think about treating bacterial infections and help play a part in preventing future epidemics.”

Adam adds: “What has been most enjoyable on our journey so far has been all the incredible people we have met - from each other as co-founders to the wonderful people working at the BioEscalator. I am immensely grateful to the College for the travel grant I was awarded to help with my accommodation costs.”

In ten years, Evolvere would like to have developed therapeutics for most of the WHO priority pathogens and optimised a platform to rapidly respond to any new dangerous bacterial strains.

For more information about the BioEscalator click here.

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