top of page

Basilea Pharmaceutica

Antibacterial acquisition

Dr Brian White

Andrew Keith


31 October 2023

Screenshot 2023-10-31 at 10.53.05.png
Screenshot 2023-10-31 at 10.54.07.png

The anti-infectives franchise at Basilea has long been dominated by the anti-fungal Cresemba (isavuconazole). In the medium term, the ongoing success of Cresemba looks assured, and we were greatly encouraged by the recent in-licensing of a novel clinical-stage anti-fungal to help populate the development pipeline and potentially provide longevity to the anti-fungal franchise. The announcement this morning that the company has secured access to the novel antibacterial agent tonabacase through an exclusive license and option agreement with the South Korean company iNtRON Biotechnology reflects the company’s determination to possess a broad anti-infective platform, encompassing both fungal and bacterial infections.


Progressing the strategy

Tonabacase is a recombinant endolysin and potentially represents a first-in-class antibacterial approach. Endolysins are derived from bacteriophage which infect and kill bacteria. It is fair to say that while interest in the use of phage as antibacterial agents has been around for decades, their development has been overshadowed by the development of (usually) broad-spectrum antibiotics. However, mounting antibiotic resistance has led to re-evaluating the potential of phage, particularly recombinant endolysins, given their potential specificity and, perhaps more importantly, their lack of bacterial resistance mechanisms. Furthermore, they have shown activity against resistant bacteria (such as MRSA), coagulase-negative staphylococci, as well as intractable biofilms. The endolysins have also demonstrated synergy with existing antibiotic classes. Tonabacase is a clinical-stage endolysin (a peptidoglycan hydrolase) that kills Gram-positive bacteria by lysing the cell wall. Encouragingly, tonabacase has completed Phase 1 studies and has been shown to be well tolerated.


Licensing and option agreement provides choice

Although the antibiotic franchise at Basilea provides only a modest contribution to sales, currently through sales of the 5th generation cephalosporin Zevtera (ceftobiprole), outside the US, ceftobiprole is approaching approval and commercialisation in the key US market (PDUFA 3rd April 2024). This approval will come with 10 years of exclusivity, and as our peak sales forecast approaches $400m (largely the bacteraemia indication), we expect a relevant commercial partner to be secured. As a result, the importance of the antibacterial franchise at Basilea should significantly increase, and the potential addition of tonabacase, if it satisfactorily completes Basilea’s exacting preclinical evaluation, should help bolster the pipeline. We note that Basilea suggests that a successful outcome could result in tonabacase directly entering Phase 2 studies in 2025.

Basilea Income Statement (CHF 000s) 

Source: Calvine Partners Research

Basilea Cash Flow (CHF 000s) 

Source: Calvine Partners Research

Basilea Balance Sheet (CHF 000s) 

Source: Calvine Partners Research


Calvine Partners LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in respect of UK investment advisory and arranging activities.


This publication has been commissioned and paid for by Basilea Pharmaceutica and as defined by the FCA is not independent research. This report is considered to be a marketing communication under FCA rules, and it has not been prepared under the laws and requirements established to promote the independence of investment research, and it is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research. The information provided is widely available to the public.


This report in the United Kingdom is directed at investment professionals, certified high net worth individuals, high net worth entities, self-certified sophisticated investors, eligible counterparties as defined by Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Financial Promotion) Order 2000. The report may also be distributed and made available to persons to whom Calvine Partners is lawfully permitted. This publication is not intended for use by any individual or entity in any jurisdiction or country where that use would breach law or regulations, or which would subject Calvine Partners or its affiliates to any registration requirement within such jurisdiction or country.


Calvine Partners may provide, or seek to provide, services to other companies mentioned in this report. Partners, employees, or related parties thereof may hold positions in the companies mentioned in the report subject to Calvine Partners’ personal account dealing rules.


Calvine Partners has only used publicly available information believed to be reliable at the time of this publication and made best efforts to ensure that the facts and opinions stated are fair, accurate, timely and complete at the publication date. However, Calvine Partners provides no guarantee concerning the accuracy or completeness of the report or the information or opinions within. This publication is not intended to be an investment recommendation, personal or otherwise, and it is not intended to be advice and should not be treated in any way as such. Any valuation estimates, such as those derived from a discounted cash flow, price multiple, or peer group comparison, do not represent estimates or forecasts of a future company share price. In no circumstances should the report be relied on or acted upon by non-qualified individuals. Personal or otherwise, it is not intended to be advice and should not be relied on in any way as such. 


Forward-looking statements, information, estimates and assumptions contained in this report are not yet known, and uncertainties may cause the actual results, performance or achievements to be significantly different from expectations.


This report does not constitute an offer, invitation or inducement to engage in a purchase or sale of any securities in the companies mention. The information provided is for educational purposes only and this publication should not be relied upon when making any investment decision or entering any commercial contract. Past performance of any security mentioned is not a reliable indicator of future results and readers should seek appropriate, independent advice before acting on any of the information contained herein. This report should not be considered as investment advice, and Calvine Partners will not be liable for any losses, costs or damages arising from the use of this report. The information provided in this report should not be considered in any circumstances as personalised advice.


Calvine Partners LLP, its affiliates, officers or employees, do not accept any liability or responsibility with regard to the information in this publication. None of the information or opinions in this publication has been independently verified. Information and opinions are subject to change after the publication of this report, possibly rendering them inaccurate and/or incomplete.


Any unauthorised copying, alteration, distribution, transmission, performance, or display, of this report, is prohibited.

bottom of page