Pherecydes raises cash to trial anti-infective phage therapies

Bacteriophages attached to a bacterium. (Dr Graham Beards [CC BY-SA 3.0])

Pherecydes has raised money to take bacteriophage-based anti-infectives into clinical trials. The €8.7 million ($10.6 million) series B will support studies targeting two bacterial infections and the creation of a drug manufacturing unit.

Paris-based Pherecydes is at the forefront of efforts to address the antibiotic resistance crisis using therapies based on bacteriophages, viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria. Such drugs have gained little traction in the West to date. But interest in the approach has ramped up in lockstep with concerns about the long-term efficacy of today’s antibiotic arsenal.

Pherecydes has tapped into this interest to put together an €8.7 million series B round. New investor Go Capital led the round with the support of fellow newcomers Omnes Capital and Fa Dièse. Existing investors ACE Management, Auriga Partners and Participations Besançon also made contributions to the series B. 

On the R&D front, Pherecydes has earmarked money for two clinical trials that will get underway over the next two years. One of the studies will assess Phosa in patients with Staphylococcus aureus infections. The other trial will evaluate inhaled phage therapy PneumoPhage in patients infected by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pherecydes has worked on the programs in collaboration with other startups, hospitals and research institutes in recent years.

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Pherecydes will support these programs and other projects by building a 10,000-square-foot plant in Nantes, France, where it will make highly purified phages. The facility will fulfill Pherecydes’ ambition to become an integrated biopharma firm capable of making its own products.

Those capabilities will become particularly important if Pherecydes’ commercial plans come to fruition. The advance of Phosa and PneumoPhage into the clinic was preceded by that of PhagoBurn, a treatment for burn wound infections that entered a multisite study in 2015. Pherecydes is gearing up to make PhagoBurn and Phosa available to patients in France on a compassionate-use basis. The promise of that shortcut to sales turned the heads of investors. 

“Pherecydes Pharma's business model means that revenues from the sale of its bacteriophages can be expected in a very short period of time,” ACE Management’s Delphine Dinard said in a statement.