Scotland-based marine biotech company Aquapharm raised £4.2 million (or about $6.3 million) through a funding round with existing investors. Aquapharm says that it will be used to progress the development of its product portfolio, which is initially focused on new antibiotics targeting both Gram negative infections and multidrug-resistant Gram positive infections.
The funding will also allow the firm to build a marine-derived compound library both for its internal discovery efforts and for commercialization with pharma and biotech companies. Concurrently, the firm also announced the appointment of Simon Best, Ph.D., as its new CEO. Dr. Best was the CEO of Roslin BioMed and, more recently, chairman of Ardana and the U.K. BioIndustry Association.
Aquapharm is leveraging its marine biotech expertise to discover novel bioactives for a range of commercial sectors including pharmaceuticals and industrial biotech. The company has built a collection of over 7,250 marine bacteria and fungi obtained from a range of habitats. The library is being exploited through the application of what Aquapharm calls a fermentation stress/screening technology to induce the production of biologically active compounds from micro-organisms that are not produced under traditional fermentation conditions.
Lead anti-infectives candidate, P-216, is from a new class of narrow-spectrum peptide antibiotics and is currently in preclinical development. The molecule was originally discovered from an extract of a new species of marine fungus and exhibits potent and broad antimicrobial activity across a wide range of agents like MRSA, VRSA, VISA, and VREs, the company claims.
Aquapharm was founded in 2000 by existing CEO, Andrew Mearns Spragg, Ph.D. With the appointment of Dr. Best as the new CEO, Dr. Mearns Spragg will become CTO and focus on the strategic development and exploitation of Aquapharm’s science and technologies.