Fighting the Global Superbug Crisis: AMS BioteQ Develops Taiwan's First Local Antibiotic
AMS BioteQ Chairman, Dr. Yi-Ju Tsai (center), and the team are actively conducting research to develop potential new drugs and address the unmet topical medication market.
Antibiotic-Resistant Superbug: One of the Greatest Threats to Human Health
Antibiotics have been around for over 90 years and were once considered a panacea for treating infections. However, with the overuse of antibiotics, bacterial resistance has become increasingly serious. Coupled with slow progress in antibiotic development, the available drugs have dwindled, posing a significant threat known as Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) to countries worldwide. Therefore, actively developing new methods to combat pathogenic microorganisms is a common goal of nations. Today, a novel natural antibiotic developed locally in Taiwan, which can be applied to wound dressings and anti-infective drugs, holds the potential to bring a glimmer of hope to the global antibiotic resistance crisis. Led by Chairman Dr. Yi-Ju Tsai, a native of Kaohsiung, a young Taiwanese research team is dedicated to discovering and developing new antibiotics to innovate product lines and target superbugs that are difficult to overcome. Even before the company's official establishment, the founder of AMS BioteQ, Dr. Tsai Yi-Ju, devoted six years to extracting edible medicinal fungi locally and developing extracts with anti-infective properties.
Taiwan Develops Novel Natural Antibiotics for Use in Dressings and Anti-Infective Drugs
Dr. Tsai Yi-Ju explained that countries worldwide are currently facing the so-called “superbug” crisis. In fact, superbug is a collective term referring to bacteria that have developed resistance to three or more antibiotics. Moreover, the types and numbers of superbugs are increasing, causing many anti-infective drugs to lose their effectiveness, and making drug treatment in the medical field increasingly challenging.
After its official establishment in 2018, AMS BioteQ set up operations in the Southern Taiwan Science Park. Its flagship product, MEDIACE®, was designed to combat superbugs and reduce wound infections. It has undergone animal experiments, demonstrating superior healing efficacy compared to commercially available dressings. MEDIACE® combines AMS BioteQ’s proprietary antibiotic, FORMOSA-1117, with a unique dressing material, providing advantages in both antibacterial properties and material quality. FORMOSA-1117 is a groundbreaking new natural antibiotic, the first of its kind globally, characterized by its small molecule properties. It can inhibit transglycosylase to prevent bacterial invasion of the human body. Unlike commercially available dressings made of PU foam or hydrocolloid, MEDIACE® uses AMS BioteQ's improved gelatin material. This material effectively absorbs wound exudate while releasing antibacterial agents, preventing adhesion, and promoting accelerated wound healing.
AMS BioteQ's MEDIACE® Dressing Leads the Market in Antibacterial Properties
Dr. Tsai Yi-Ju pointed out, “The global market for advanced dressings is expected to reach $15.8 billion by 2024. However, the effectiveness of currently available dressings is not always ideal. For example, many of them contain silver ions, which still raise concerns about wound healing and human health. Therefore, many biotech companies are investing in the development of new dressings, aiming to reduce secondary infections of wounds and improve patient comfort.” AMS BioteQ's MEDIACE® dressing is currently in the process of a patent application and is expected to be granted in 2022. In the future, it will be tailored for both the over-the-counter market and professional medical institutions, suitable for general wounds such as abrasions and cuts, as well as severe infection wounds resulting from surgeries and chronic diseases, depending on the concentration of antibacterial ingredients.
YUAN-03 Antibiotic Highly Effective Suppresses Different Coronaviruses
Building upon the innovative discovery of FORMOSA-1117, amid the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, AMS BioteQ has also achieved significant breakthroughs in the development of treatments against the COVID-19 virus. The novel antibiotic YUAN-03, derived from fungal extracts, underwent antiviral testing by Institute of Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Research at the National Health Research Institute and the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science and Medical Biotechnology at National Taiwan University in April and July 2021. The results confirmed nearly 100% virus inhibition against human influenza coronavirus hCoV-OC43 and the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 under specific conditions.
Dr. Yi-Ju Tsai expressed that YUAN-03 is a novel antibiotic crafted from locally sourced edible medicinal fungi, making it Taiwan's first self-developed antibiotic. YUAN-03 initially demonstrated nearly 100% virus inhibition in tests against human influenza coronavirus hCoV-OC43 conducted at the National Health Research Institute. Subsequently, it underwent in vitro antiviral testing against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by the research team at National Taiwan University. The results revealed that the concentration required to inhibit 50% of the virus was 51.63 µg/mL, and when the concentration reached 75 µg/mL, the virus inhibition rate nearly reached 100%. This exciting outcome has affirmed AMS BioteQ's strategy of developing new drugs through unique, innovative, and cutting-edge technologies. He further emphasized that this also proves that self-developed antibiotics from Taiwan not only offer hope for treating COVID-19 but may also be effective against diseases caused by other coronaviruses and even multidrug-resistant bacteria in the future.
Seeking Pharmaceutical Collaborations to Expand Product Line
AMS BioteQ is composed of a 100% Taiwanese research team. In the short term, their goal is to publish the innovative research results of new antibiotics like FORMOSA-1117 and YUAN-03 in top international journals such as Science and Nature. They aim to attract partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies and initiate pre-clinical trials. In the long term, their objective is to bring these products to market, seek licensing agreements with international pharmaceutical companies to acquire more resources for research expansion, and diversify their product line. They aspire to become a new force in Taiwan's biotechnology industry. Dr. Yi-Ju Tsai stated, “Superbugs could lead humanity into a dark era, returning to times when minor infections could be fatal.” AMS BioteQ hopes to contribute by vigorously combating superbugs through innovative medical technology. “I believe that with a focus on research, collective wisdom, and collaborative efforts, AMS BioteQ can help all those worldwide in need of antibiotics, making the world a better place. This is the belief that drives us to work hard every day.”