BACKGROUND. Novel therapeutic approaches are critically needed for Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections (BSIs), particularly for methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). Exebacase, a first-in-class antistaphylococcal lysin, is a direct lytic agent that is rapidly bacteriolytic, eradicates biofilms, and synergizes with antibiotics. METHODS. In this superiority-design study, we randomly assigned 121 patients with S. aureus BSI/endocarditis to receive a single dose of exebacase or placebo. All patients received standard-of-care antibiotics. The primary efficacy endpoint was clinical outcome (responder rate) on day 14. RESULTS. Clinical responder rates on day 14 were 70.4% and 60.0% in the exebacase + antibiotics and antibiotics-alone groups, respectively (difference = 10.4, 90% CI [-6.3, 27.2], P = 0.31), and were 42.8 percentage points higher in the prespecified exploratory MRSA subgroup (74.1% vs. 31.3%, difference = 42.8, 90% CI [14.3, 71.4], ad hoc P = 0.01). Rates of adverse events (AEs) were similar in both groups. No AEs of hypersensitivity to exebacase were reported. Thirty-day all-cause mortality rates were 9.7% and 12.8% in the exebacase + antibiotics and antibiotics-alone groups, respectively, with a notable difference in MRSA patients (3.7% vs. 25.0%, difference = -21.3, 90% CI [-45.1, 2.5], ad hoc P = 0.06). Among MRSA patients in the United States, median length of stay was 4 days shorter and 30-day hospital readmission rates were 48% lower in the exebacase-treated group compared with antibiotics alone. CONCLUSION. This study establishes proof of concept for exebacase and direct lytic agents as potential therapeutics and supports conduct of a confirmatory study focused on exebacase to treat MRSA BSIs. TRIAL REGISTRATION. Clinicaltrials.gov NCT03163446. FUNDING. ContraFect Corporation.
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