In the race to develop new antibiotics with completely new modes of action that might address the growing threat posed by antimicrobial resistance, Auspherix Limited (UK) has raised £6 million in a Series A venture financing, and is establishing operations on the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst site just outside of London, UK. New investor Imperial Innovations plc (AIM IVO) led the round alongside Australian founding investor the Medical Research Commercialization Fund (MRCF).
The investment will be used to fund the Company’s drug discovery programme, expand the experienced management team and recruit a world-class microbiology team. Auspherix aims to progress its novel class of antibacterials, which have a unique profile and novel mechanism of action, through lead optimization to final candidate selection within the next two years. Auspherix’s current lead compounds show activity against a broad range of multidrug resistant (MDR) important Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial infections.
The Company was co-founded by Professor Ian Charles and Dr Dagmar Alber during their time together at the ithree institute, UTS, Sydney. Dr Roberto Solari has joined the Board of Directors as its independent non-executive Chairman. Previously, Dr Solari was Vice President in GSK’s UK-based Respiratory Therapy Area, and is currently senior research fellow in the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, focusing on respiratory infections.
He is also an advisor to Imperial Innovations and Brandon Capital Partners, and is on the board of Heptares and the Science Advisory Board of Astex Pharmaceuticals. Before joining GSK, Dr Solari was CEO of the UK Medical Research Council’s technology transfer arm, MRCT, creating spin out companies such as Heptares and developing an internal drug discovery group. The Company has also appointed Grant Hawthorne, an experienced biotech company director as COO.
Founding venture investor and Auspherix Board member Dr Stephen Thompson, Partner at Brandon Capital Partners, the Australian venture capital firm that manages the MRCF, said: “Auspherix has progressed very rapidly and is now at the stage that building out the team is appropriate. The potential of the Company’s new class of anti-infectives is an extremely exciting opportunity and I am delighted that Imperial innovations has agreed to invest alongside the MRCF to move the programmes forward.”
Commenting on the investment and Auspherix’s potential, Dr Solari said: “Auspherix’s novel chemistry has activity against a broad range of multidrug resistant (MDR) Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial infections and the initial pharmacokinetic profile of these compounds is consistent with their use as an antibacterial drug for a number of indications with high unmet need and large market potential.”
Professor Charles, co-founder and CSO said "The need to find new ways to combat infectious diseases becomes more urgent year-on-year as superbugs continue to emerge that are resistant to more and more current antibiotics. Whilst drug discovery is a long road, to have discovered antibacterial compounds with completely novel chemical structures is very exciting and I look
forward to working with the new team as we move our discoveries forward towards the clinic.”
The Company anticipates appointing a CEO within the coming months, and is building out its Stevenage-based R&D team. It will pursue a flexible investment and partnering model aimed at maximizing the speed with which it can develop and commercialize its novel antibiotic drug candidates.