Phico Therapeutics raises further £1.8m to develop new class of
2 April 2010
Cambridge based Phico Therapeutics, has raised £1.8 million
from their recent funding round of institutional investors and business
angels to develop new treatments for drug-resistant superbugs.
The company has raised more than £3.7 million during the last 12
months, despite the difficult funding environment, bringing the
total investment in the company to date to approximately £9 million.
Phico's technology, known as SASPject, works by using a unique
antibiotic protein, SASP, to inactivate the DNA of targeted, harmful
bacteria. Phico is in clinical trials in humans with its first
product, aimed at eliminating Staphylococcus aureus,
including MRSA, from the nose. This application is an important part
of controlling infection in hospital.
The Phase I trial, and the upcoming Phase II clinical trial with
the Company's first product, PT1.2, are funded by a £1.03 million
Strategic Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust. The new money
will be used to support the clinical development programme of PT 1.2
and will also fund the continuing development of the SASPject
platform to treat infections due to other important pathogens,
including Gram negative organisms and Clostridium difficile - all
common causes of infection in hospitals.
Phico's technology is biologically designed to target only the
selected range of pathogenic bacteria so that helpful good bacteria
are left unharmed. Furthermore, no mechanism has yet been identified
by which bacteria can become resistant to SASP. The SASPject
technology could form the basis of a new class of antibiotics.
SASPject technology explained
SASPject is a novel antibiotic therapy that can be targeted to
any bacteria including multi-drug resistant bugs. The first
SASPject, PT1.2 has been developed initially for nasal
decolonisation of S. aureus including MRSA. SASPject has
two components, the first is antibiotic protein SASP which
inactivates bacterial DNA, and the second is a target-specific
SASPject delivery vectors inject genes for the antibiotic protein
SASP through the cell wall of target bacteria. SASP are produced
inside the targeted bacterium where they bind to and inactivate the
bacterial chromosome and plasmid DNA.
In this way SASP prevents cell reproduction, and potentially
toxin production, thus halting the spread of the infection, and also
stop bacterial metabolism, which kills the targeted bacteria.
Crucially, SASP binds to the bacterial DNA in a
non-sequence-specific manner and so does not allow the bacteria to
SASPject is effective against S. aureus, a Gram positive
bacterium and E. coli, a Gram negative bacterium. These
findings mean that SASPject has the potential to be effective
against all species of drug resistant bacteria.