最近，一家新成立不久的抗生素医药公司Macrolide Pharmaceuticals宣布公司已经完成了总额达2200万美元的首轮融资。可千万不要小看这家名不见经传的小公司，它是由哈佛大学著名的化学家Andrew Myers创办的，可谓是出身名门。这家公司刚刚成立就吸引了包括诺华风投、罗氏风投和SROne（葛兰素史克旗下风投公司）的高度注意。而此次Macrolide Pharmaceuticals的首轮投资就由这三家风投公司领衔。
Andrew Myers创办的Macrolide Pharmaceuticals的杀手锏就在于大环内酯类抗生素药物的研发。大环内酯类物质能够通过与细菌的核糖体结合而阻断细菌蛋白质的合成。这一原理能够用于开发新型抗生素药物。然而，由于人类一直无法找到有效的方法合成大环内酯类物质，这一有前景的工作就只能停留在实验室之中。Andrew Myers表示，他们现在已经找到了一种稳定可靠的方法合成这种物质。利用这种新技术，Andrew Myers等人已经获得了超过200种大环内酯类物质。可以想见，这对于抗生素药物研发产业来说具有重要意义。
值得注意的是，这并不是Andrew Myers的首次创业，2006年他就和另外一名科学家Lawrence Miller创办了一家抗生素药物公司--Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals。不久前Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals已经成功完成了一项新型四环素药物的临床三期研究。
Harvard chemistry professor Andrew Myers says he's made a breakthrough that can greatly expand a class ofantibiotics, forming the foundation for his latest startup: Macrolide Pharmaceuticals. And the biotech is launching today with $22 million in venture cash from an impressive group of venture backers, with three Big Pharmas in the VC mix and some early shots at a possible early-stage marquee deal.
Once again, Myers has teamed up with Lawrence Miller for the startup. Back in 2006 the two also launched Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals ($TTPH), an antibacterial company that's been working with a tetracycline platform and recently heralded the success of a Phase III study.
Novartis Venture Fund, Gurnet Point Capital, Roche Ventures, and SROne (GlaxoSmithKline) all came in on the A round after Harvard's tech office struck a deal to outlicense the technology, the latest in a flurry of pacts that has focused fresh attention on developing antibiotics.
Macrolides are a class of antibiotics which bind to ribosomes in bacteria, inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis and stopping an attack. But unable to synthesize most macrolides, researchers have been limited in developing them. Myers, though, says he's found the key to developing a full pipeline of them.
Myers' breakthrough in synthesizing macrolides--constructing them out of "basic industrial chemicals," says Miller--leaves the company at an early stage of development with a two- to three-year march to the clinic. But Miller adds that Myers has already synthesized more than 200 macrolides, and with three Big Pharma venture groups behind them, they've already been approached by a couple of large pharmas interested in striking a preclinical collaboration.
"We're pleased by who's shown interest," says Miller. Now the CEO says the company will take the next two or three months to evaluate whether they should go ahead and strike a collaboration deal now or wait until they have more information about how this expanded class of antibiotics works. In the meantime, Miller says he's also hiring as fast as he can, building a team around the three staffers currently on board.
The Big Pharma interest in the A round underscores a resurgence in the field. As Miller notes, when he and Myers started Tetraphase in 2006, there was little industry interest in antibiotics, which had been largely marginalized. Now, though, Roche ($RHHBY) and others have been keen to grow in the field, seeing fresh prospects as the U.S. adds fresh incentives for developers.