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