Phico Therapeutics Ltd, a biotechnology company developing engineered phage technology as the basis of a new generation of antibiotics to overcome antibacterial resistance, has announced £7m in new investment.

The financing was led by growth capital investor BGF, which invested £3 million, and was joined by other existing Phico investors.The funds will be used to support the continued development of Phico’s SASPject technology platform and in particular the progression of its lead product, PT3.9, towards the clinic.

The funding follows a recent announcement that Phico has been awarded a grant of up to $18.2 million USD (circa. £13.2 million GBP) to support the development of SASPject PT3.9 from Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), a global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating antibacterial research to tackle the global rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria.

SASPject PT3.9 is being developed for the intravenous treatment of hospital infections due to the bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Phico’s SASPject platform delivers pan-spectrum anti-bacterial proteins called small acid-soluble spore proteins, or SASPs, to selected bacterial species using engineered bacterial viruses which inactivate the bacteria’s DNA leaving them unable to metabolise or reproduce.

The Phase I clinical trials will be first-in-man, intravenous studies and will focus on establishing the safety and kinetics of PT3.9 in healthy volunteers and, potentially, patients with ventilated hospital acquired pneumonia and ventilator associated pneumonia.

The increasing multi-drug resistance of P. aeruginosa strains has resulted in the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) classifying P. aeruginosa as a serious threat to human health, and the World Health Organisation classifying it in the top three bacteria needing new treatments. With the bacteria being a leading cause of pneumonia in hospital patients, especially those on a ventilator, the SASPject platform could provide a much needed alternative to conventional antibiotic treatments.

Tim Rea, investor at BGF, said: “This is an extremely exciting time for Phico Therapeutics, and we are delighted to be partnering with this innovative business and expanding our presence in Cambridge and UK life sciences.

“BGF’s long-term approach to patient capital is a good match for this dynamic business, which has been at the forefront of building technological solutions to antibacterial resistance for over 20 years. We are thrilled to be working with Dr Heather Fairhead and the management team in helping them to realise the next great milestone for the company.”

Dr. Heather Fairhead, Phico Founder and CEO, said: “We are delighted that BGF has made this investment alongside many of Phico’s existing investor base. Coupled with the recent award from CARB-X, these funds will enable the company to exemplify the technology in first in human intravenous studies. This is a very exciting time for Phico and we’re looking forward to great things ahead.”