Bayer VP Alan Westwood to lead antimicrobial firm Matoke Pharma


Former Bayer VP Alan Westwood has taken the reins of British antimicrobial biotech Matoke Pharma.

Westwood spent 35 years at Bayer Health Care, becoming its VP of global strategic marketing for anti-infectives. As managing director of Matoke Pharma, he will oversee development of its lead candidate, RO-101, based on the company’s “reactive oxygen” platform.

The platform uses naturally occurring compounds and molecules, such as hydrogen peroxide, to kill bacteria by physically disrupting their cell structures and membranes. Such oxygen-containing compounds are also used in the body’s normal wound-healing processes.

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Matoke’s technology is being developed as a primary treatment for chronic, nonhealing wounds, aiding in the regeneration of tissue and stimulation of the immune system. It has also demonstrated potential in antimicrobial applications due to its biofilm penetration and in vitro activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, as well as fungi, viruses and multidrug-resistant bacteria.

The company plans to advance RO-101, which uses synthetic biology to deliver low doses of surface-activated hydrogen peroxide, into phase 1 trials in 2019. Other topical forms are also under development.

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“New antimicrobial treatments are desperately needed to halt the rise of antimicrobial resistance, which is forecast to contribute to 10 million deaths worldwide by 2050,” Ian Staples, chief executive of Matoke Holdings, said in a statement.

The company previously received a CE mark for a medical device consisting of a bioengineered honey, SurgihoneyRO, approved as an antimicrobial gel that slowly releases hydrogen peroxide for acute and chronic wound care.

In 2017, the U.K.’s National Health Service recognized SurgihoneyRO gel as a treatment for venous leg ulcers to reduce bacterial load and infection, the company said, adding that it could help reduce antibiotic use.

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