The fight against drug-resistant bacteria marches forward as Adaptive Phage earns $40M+ Series B
A company working toward the field of bacteriophages, developing therapies that use bacteria-killing viruses, just pulled in a significant amount of new capital.
Adaptive Phage Therapeutics closed a $40.75 million Series B, the Gaithersburg, MD-based biotech announced Tuesday morning. The financing was led by Deerfield Management with participation from the Mayo Clinic, which had been a previous investor.
Bacteriophages had long been an empty area of research in the US, but the field has garnered more interest recently as antibiotic-resistant bacteria continue to grow in prominence. Some of the earliest scientists to theorize about their use have thought that finding the right phages can lead to better treatments for infections and illnesses.
The molecules are viruses, and work the same way human-infecting viruses do — by entering host cells and replicating. But in this case the host cells are bacteria. The ultimate goal of bacteriophage therapy is to use phages to enter bacterial cells and cause them to burst, thereby curing patients.
It’s long proved a difficult task, namely due to the lack of research and funding which is failing to help prove these theories. Many of the patients who have received experimental bacteriophage therapies have also been extremely sick, with the treatments used as last-resort options.
Furthermore, there’s the need to identify specifically which bacterial strain is infecting patients, and matching the right bacteriophage to the pathogen. Mismatching the two not only won’t help the sick patients, but might end up causing further harm as well.
For Adaptive Phage, the funds will go toward the therapies that come out of its proprietary platform. The company is developing a bank of phages, saying it’s collected hundreds of different viruses so far that provide broad coverage against six high-priority, drug-resistant bacteria.
Adaptive Phage’s two lead programs are to treat prosthetic joint infection and diabetic foot osteomyelitis, and they also plan to use some funds to advance a susceptibility test to more quickly identify potential phage therapies. The company’s technology was originally developed by the Pentagon’s biodefense program, and Adaptive Phage acquired it in 2017.
Deerfield is no stranger to this area either, as it bought out Melinta in March 2020 after the antibiotics company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The deal turned over control to Deerfield in exchange for the $140 million of senior debt it holds in the company.
Social: Greg Merril, Adaptive Phage Therapeutics CEO (Adaptive Phage)