Auspherix secures AU$1m from MRCF to advance novel antibiotics pipeline

4 November 2014

Auspherix Pty Ltd, an early stage company developing novel antibiotics to treat bacterial drug resistance, has announced that it has secured a further with AU$1 million in a series A financing from Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF). It has also strengthened its research team.

In less than 12 months since its foundation 2013, Auspherix has identified a number of antibacterial compounds with broad spectrum activity against a panel of clinical isolates of antibiotic resistant Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Through a hit-to-lead programme conducted in collaboration with Domainex, Auspherix now has a better understanding of the SAR necessary to target the organisms and has improved the antibiotic activity of the initial compounds. The new investment will be used to further refine the lead compound series, and to screen these in in vivo models in collaboration with Evotec (previously Euprotec).

Auspherix has adopted a virtual business model with research being directed by Professor Ian Charles CSO and founder of Auspherix, who is Director of the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The founding intellectual property behind Auspherix was in-licensed from the ithree institute based on research led by Professor Charles, together with Dr Dagmar Alber, ithree Senior Research Fellow. Professor Charles and Dr Alber previously worked together successfully at Arrow Therapeutics as CSO and head of virology respectively.

The scientific team has been further strengthened by the appointment of Dr Ian Holmes as head of chemistry alongside Dr Alber as head of biology. Dr Holmes is an experienced medicinal chemist and pre-clinical project leader with a proven track record of program milestone delivery in large pharma and biotech environments. Past positions include Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Cancer Therapeutics CRC, Melbourne, Australia and prior to that at GSK.

Auspherix has appointed two independent consultants to advise the Company: Dr Alan Naylor and Dr Mike Tarbit. Prior to his consulting career Dr Naylor spent 30 years in medicinal chemistry at GSK, latterly as Vice President, Head of Strategy and Operations and Director of Medicinal Chemistry at a UK-based centre of excellence in drug discovery. Dr Tarbit’s career has spanned biotech and pharma, including at Inpharmatica, ArQule, GSK and Pfizer.

Professor Charles said, "It is now widely recognized that we desperately need to find new ways to combat infectious diseases including resistant bacterial infections. At Auspherix we are making rapid advances in optimizing potential antibacterial compounds with completely novel chemical structures which, if successful, will deliver the drugs needed to keep the threat from superbugs in check.”

Commenting on the second tranche of investment into Auspherix, Stephen Thompson, Chairman of Auspherix and Partner at Brandon Capital, the venture capital firm that manages the MRCF said “Auspherix has made astonishing progress in less than a year, successfully achieving all of the key milestones. The potential to bring a new class of anti-infectives to market is an extremely exciting opportunity and we are pleased to have made an additional investment into the Company.”

Subject to meeting near-term milestones, Auspherix will rapidly seek further investment and/or industry partnerships to move its novel antibiotics into pre-clinical and clinical development.

Source: Auspherix


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