Centauri Therapeutics has acquired the Alphamer immuno-therapeutics platform technology for drug discovery and development from Altermune Technologies. The price was not disclosed.

Alphamer technology is based on chemically synthesized molecules redirecting naturally occurring antibodies to selected pathogens to fight infection—what the company calls “programmable immunity.” One end of a molecule binds a cell-surface target on a pathogen using an aptamer, while the other end presents specific epitopes that attach to the circulating antibodies.

According to Centauri, Alphamers have shown potential to redirect pre-existing antibodies to bacteria in a specific manner and trigger an immediate antibacterial immune response, clearing the infection.

Centauri said it decided to acquire Alphamer following the publication of a successful preclinical proof of principle study by Victor Nizet, M.D., vice chair for basic research in the department of pediatrics at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The purchase included full rights to patents, proprietary compounds, know-how, and collaboration/licence agreements. Centauri said it is focused on discovery, optimization, and development of Alphamers targeting acute hospital-acquired infections, with research being conducted at a core R&D facility at Discovery Park in Sandwich, Kent, U.K., where the company is based.

Centauri’s first lead candidates will target anti-microbial resistant (AMR) pathogens using the first tranche of a £3 million ($4.3 million) financing. Investors include Animatrix Capital, a regional investment fund, as well as undisclosed private investors.

Animatrix CEO Stuart Lawson is also Centauri’s CFO. Centauri’s CEO is Mike Westby, who previously held positions at Pfizer and Roche. “The emergence and rapid global spread of AMR pathogens means that there is a large potential market to treat life-threatening intractable diseases,” Westby said in a statement.

Westby also announced the appointment of Clive Dix, Ph.D., as Centauri’s chairman. Dr. Dix was previously co-founder and executive chairman of Convergence Pharmaceuticals, acquired last year by Biogen for up to $675 million, and earlier was founder and CEO of PowderMed, acquired by Pfizer in 2006.

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