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20 November, 2016 - 20:51 By Kate Sweeney

Phico Therapeutics raises £3.5 million

Phico Therapeutics in Cambridge has raised more than £3.5 million from new and existing investors to support the development of a ground-breaking new treatment to target antibiotic resistant infections in hospitals.

The fund will be used to take its pioneering treatment PT3 into human clinical trials, bringing this much-needed new antimicrobial therapy closer to patients.

Superbugs are so-called because of their ability to fend off antibiotic treatment. For over 100 years, antibiotics have been the last line of defence against a range of illnesses but are increasingly failing to safeguard against a new generation of bugs able to combat such treatments.

A UK government review of antimicrobial resistance carried out in May and chaired by Lord Jim O’Neill concluded that unless action was taken now, the death toll from antimicrobial resistant infections could, by 2050, be as high as one fatality every three seconds.

It is hoped PT3, which is part of Phico’s innovative SASPject technology range of treatments, will be a key tool for the world’s medical professionals as they look to find ways to address the growing risk that antimicrobial resistance poses to global health.

Guy Hands, the founder, chairman and chief investment officer of Terra Firma, one of Europe’s leading private equity firms, and his wife, Julia Hands, have invested in Phico.

In a joint statement they said: “Phico Therapeutics is doing vital work in the field of antibiotic resistance. There is lack of funding for the UK’s biotech companies as they endeavour to find solutions for a major global problem. We are proud to be involved in this vital work and to support the scientists whose research in this area is of critical importance to future generations.”

PT3 has been developed to target Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterial species which exhibits one of the highest levels of inherent multi-drug resistance (MDR), with resistant pseudomonal infections causing a significant number of deaths each year.

Commenting on the potential of the PT3 treatment to address this global health risk, and the wider investment into anti-microbial resistance research CEO, Dr Heather Fairhead (pictured above) said: “Phico’s ground-breaking SASPject technology is being utilised to target a range of multidrug resistant (MDR) bacterial infections.

“Studies to date have been very encouraging and support the use of SASPjects as antibacterial drugs in areas of high unmet need and large market potential.

“With the additional investment this research has garnered from our new and existing investors, we are now well placed for our lead product, PT3, to spearhead Phico’s growing pipeline of treatments, with human trials expected in 2017.”

Phico, working in conjunction with Greenwood Way Capital and other stakeholders has unlocked considerable investment for the sector from those looking to the UK as a potential growth area.

David Harding of Winton Ventures highlighted the opportunity for domestic and overseas investors in UK biotechnology: “The sector in the UK can go from strength to strength. We have excellent science, a strong talent pool, and a supportive business environment.

“Phico presents a fantastic opportunity to help develop and bring to market cutting edge products that will make a real difference in the battle against antibiotic resistance.”  

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