Phico Therapeutics Ltd, a Cambridge-based company that has developed a unique anti-bacterial technology to treat the hospital superbug, MRSA, has raised £550,000 with the help of Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network (OION), Europe’s leading technology business angel network. Phico’s anti-bacterial technology, known as SASPject, is effective against all bacteria but can uniquely be targeted to destroy only harmful bacteria while leaving “good” skin and gut bacteria intact. The funding will enable Phico to take SASPject through to clinical trials.
Dr Heather Fairhead, Chief Executive Officer of Phico Therapeutics, said: “Phico’s anti-bacterial SASPject technology is effectively a lethal injection for bacteria. Uniquely, SASPject combines an anti-bacterial protein (SASP) with a delivery vector programmed to inject the SASP protein directly into selected bacteria, so it wipes out only harmful bacteria. It is expected to have far fewer side effects than conventional antibiotics.
SASPject can de-activate or ‘turn off’ bacterial DNA, putting bacteria into a state of suspended animation and halting the spread of infection, giving the immune system time to eliminate the bacteria. It is extremely effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as the MRSA superbug, with SASPject turning off the genes that cause resistance to antibiotics. Conventional antibiotics cannot do this.”
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Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
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