Phico raises further funds to fight E.coli

Published: 7-Jul-2011

To develop SASPject antibiotic technology

Phico Therapeutics, a Cambridge, UK-based biotech company, has raised £1m of new funding to develop medical products based on its SASPject antibiotic technology, which could play a vital role in treating outbreaks of E.coli and MRSA.

SASPject PT3.X deactivates bacteria and prevents the release of toxins, halting the spread of infection. Unlike conventional antibiotics, SASPject only affects the targeted bacteria, leaving 'good' bacteria unharmed.

‘There is currently no effective antibiotic treatment for this group of severe food-poisoning types of E. coli, and we are now witnessing the tragic human and economic consequences of this infection in Europe. It is vital that we continue to trial and refine these new products and this latest round of funding is extremely welcome,’ said Dr Heather Fairhead, chief executive of Phico Therapeutics.

The active agent in SASPject is an antibiotic protein called SASP. It works by binding to bacterial DNA and switching off all primary functions in the bacterial cell and stopping it from reproducing. SASP can bind to any point on the DNA, making it virtually impossible for bacteria to develop resistance to it.

A type of virus known to target only bacteria is used to carry the SASP gene through the body directly to the infection, delivering it into the bacteria. The bacteria then produce the SASP active protein, deactivating the cells.

The SASPject delivery platform can be used to target selected individual bacterial species or a range of multiple species.

Phico has already attracted £10m from its private investors to develop the first SASPject product, SASPject PT1.2, to fight MRSA.

This earlier project was supported by £1m from the Wellcome Trust and Phico completed a clinical human trial that showed that the product is safe and well tolerated in healthy human volunteers. Phase II of this clinical trial to assess its efficacy is scheduled for later this year.

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