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Phico Therapeutics secures £550,000 for Anti-Bacterial to target MRSA


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.”

Dr Fairhead commented on how the investment will help Phico: "Phico has already demonstrated that SASPject works in the laboratory, and the funding raised through Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network will help to take us through to the start of human clinical trials in 2005, as the next step in the process of bringing our products to market. For this funding round, we used a number of investment networks around the country and found OION to be one of the most effective. The presentation was well-organised and OION’s manager was very proactive, attracting investment from investors in Portsmouth as well as Oxford.”

Jon Cox, Manager of Oxfordshire Investment Opportunity Network, said: “Phico offered the OION investors a unique and very relevant technology that has already demonstrated results, backed by a knowledgeable and experienced management team. On this occasion, members from our sister network, Solent Investment Opportunity Network (SION), invested alongside the OION investors enabling Phico to secure the funds needed to commercialise their technology.”

Margaret Henry | alfa
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