Roche is teaming up with Spero Therapeutics, a company founded last April, in an antibiotics partnership under which Roche will provide nondilutive R&D funding to Spero. The Swiss company will also have the option to acquire Spero’s lead program at the IND application phase on terms that include an upfront payment and milestones.

Spero aims to develop novel therapies to treat bacterial infections. For its first program, the Cambridge, MA-based firm is developing an inhibitor of a target that controls the virulence and persistence of Gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Spero says this approach could potentially pose a lower risk of driving rapid emergence of drug resistance and affecting the human microbiome than traditional antibiotics, and in preclinical trials has demonstrated the potential to treat acute infections and prevent chronic persistence of pathogens in infection sites. 

“We founded Spero with the idea that novel treatment approaches and a world-class team could address the very high unmet need in bacterial infections,” said Ankit Mahadevia, M.D., venture partner at Atlas Venture and the company's acting president. “The Roche team’s commitment to developing first-in-class therapies in the invigorated field of antibacterials makes them an ideal partner for Spero as we expand our efforts in this area.”

Dr. Mahadevia founded Spero in collaboration with Partners Innovation Fund and with the Atlas Venture seed program's support. SR One, Atlas Venture, and Partners Innovation Fund all invested in Spero’s $3 million Series A financing. 

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