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11 May, 2021 - 10:12 By Tony Quested

Phico raises fresh £7m to scale fight against superbugs

Fresh money is raining down on Cambridge business Phico Therapeutics to fund a new generation of antibiotics to overcome antibacterial resistance.

Having been awarded a grant of up to £13.2 million ($18.2m) last month, Phico has now raised £7m in a new financing led by BGF, who put in £3m of that figure.

The funds will be used to support the continued development of Phico’s SASPject technology platform and in particular the progression of its lead product, PT3.9 towards the clinic.

SASPject PT3.9 is being developed for the intravenous treatment of hospital infections due to the bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. 

Phico’s SASPject platform delivers pan-spectrum anti-bacterial proteins called small acid-soluble spore proteins, or SASPs, to selected bacterial species using engineered bacterial viruses which inactivate the bacteria’s DNA leaving them unable to metabolise or reproduce.

The Phase I clinical trials will be first-in-man, intravenous studies and will focus on establishing the safety and kinetics of PT3.9 in healthy volunteers and, potentially, patients with ventilated hospital acquired pneumonia and ventilator associated pneumonia.

The increasing multi-drug resistance of P. aeruginosa strains has resulted in the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) classifying P. aeruginosa as a serious threat to human health and the World Health Organisation classifying it in the top three bacteria needing new treatments. 

With the bacteria being a leading cause of pneumonia in hospital patients, especially those on a ventilator, the SASPject platform could provide a much needed alternative to conventional antibiotic treatments.

Dr Heather Fairhead, Phico founder and CEO said: “We are delighted that BGF has made this investment alongside many of Phico’s existing investor base.

“Coupled with the recent award from CARB-X, these funds will enable the company to exemplify the technology in first in human intravenous studies.  This is a very exciting time for Phico and we’re looking forward to great things ahead.”

The advisers to the transaction were Goodwin, led by David Mardle, partner in Goodwin’s Technology and Life Sciences Group.

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