Chief executive of the biotech company, Dr Heather Fairhead, explains, ‘We are creating a new class of antibiotic that we can use to more effectively treat patients with multi-drug resistant strains of gram negative bacteria, including E. coli, K. pneumoniae and P. aeruginosa.’
Phico recently completed a phase 1 human clinical trial that demonstrated its anti-MRSA product, SASPject PT 1.2, is safe and well tolerated in human volunteers, backed by a £1.3 million Strategic Translation Award from the charitable foundation Wellcome Trust.
The company’s product, SASPject, is an antibacterial therapy that can target any bacteria. Its active agent is an antibiotic protein called SASP, which binds to bacterial DNA, inactivating it.
By switching off all primary functions in the bacterial cell, this prevents it from reproducing, thereby halting the spread of infection.
Phico cites the recent outbreak of E. coli bacteria in Europe, where patients infected with the microbe are unable to be treated with traditional antibiotics because scientists believe that killing the E. coli pathogenin in this way releases more toxin.
Fairhead founded Phico in 2000 with seed funding from Cambridge Research and Innovation, and is located at the Babraham Research Campus.
The company has since raised over £10 million, including UK government grants of £350,000.