Collaborations, R&D

Taking on biodefense threats, antibiotics maker Spero inks $54M in government deals

Cambridge, Massachusetts startup Spero Therapeutics is joining forces with US defense organizations to see if their investigational antibiotic could be useful against biodefense threats.

To help find out, Spero was awarded $15.7 million in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, with potential to see an additional $28.5 million over the next 5 years.

Ankit Mahadevia

As part of an inter-agency collaboration, the US Army is stepping up to test Spero’s antibiotic, SPR994, to see how it works against biodefense threats like anthrax, plague, and melioidosis. Those studies will be conducted by the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency is chipping in $1.25 million to fund nonclinical biodefense aspects of the collaboration, Spero says, with an additional $8.75 million tied to milestones down the road.

“We are honored to be the recipient of an award and to join BARDA and DTRA in this unique inter-agency collaboration,” said Ankit Mahadevia, CEO of Spero, in a statement. “We look forward to advancing SPR994 through clinical development for public and biodefense use as we target public health needs caused by emerging drug-resistant infections. We believe the funding is a validation of the clinical potential of SPR994 across a broad treatment landscape, and of the ability of a small biotech company to work towards bringing these innovative therapies to patients in collaboration with our partners at BARDA and DTRA.”

The funding from these government deals will also support Spero’s clinical trials of SPR994 for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections, the company said.

SPR994 is Spero’s investigational oral formulation of tebipenem, a carbapenem-class antibiotic marketed by Meiji Seika Pharma in Japan as Orapenem since 2009 for common pediatric infections. Spero plans to start a Phase III trial of SPR994 for the treatment of cUTI around year-end 2018.


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