Qpex launches with VC and BARDA funding to target drug-resistant infections

green bacteria
The San Diego-based spinoff is being led by former executives of The Medicines Company’s infectious disease unit. (Gerd Altmann)

Qpex Biopharma has launched as a new infectious disease company, simultaneously obtaining $33 million and a portfolio of preclinical assets from The Medicines Company.

Its initial programs include a beta-lactamase inhibitor with a broad spectrum of coverage, as the company takes aim at antimicrobial resistance in both inpatient and outpatient settings. New Enterprise Associates led the series A funding round and was joined by Adams Street Partners, LYZZ Capital, Hatteras Venture Partners and Stanford University Draper Fund.

Qpex has also secured additional funding from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, totaling as much as $132 million, to develop treatments for drug-resistant, gram-negative infections. BARDA’s initial $32 million award was granted in 2016 and includes options for up to $100 million more that could potentially carry the company into late-stage development.

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The San Diego-based spinoff is being led by former executives from The Medicines Company’s infectious disease unit and alums of Rempex Pharmaceuticals, which the former acquired in 2013.

They include Qpex’s president and CEO, Michael Dudley, Pharm.D., who formerly served as The Medicines Company’s senior VP of R&D and chief scientific officer.

“We are very pleased to form Qpex around the validated beta-lactamase inhibitor technology our team pioneered and to attract such an experienced group of healthcare investors,” Dudley said in a statement.

The Medicines Company would later sell off its anti-infectives programs—to Melinta Therapeutics in a $270 million deal this past January, including the marketed products Vabomere, Orbactiv and Minocin—to focus fully on the development of its PCSK9 cholesterol drug inclisiran.

Qpex also counts Jeff Loutit, M.D., as chief medical officer, Scott Hecker, PhD., as VP of chemistry, Olga Lomovskaya, PhD., as VP of microbiology, and David Griffith as VP of nonclinical and clinical sciences, who all served in the same or similar roles at The Medicines Company through July.

Together, the company’s management team has helped develop and secure approvals for four antibiotics in the past five years, Qpex said in its curtain-raising announcement. The cost of its acquisitions from The Medicines Company were not disclosed.

“The urgent, global threat of antimicrobial resistance demands innovation and we're responding again to the calls sounded by the CDC and WHO for solutions by developing clinical candidates that we believe will be best-in-class anti-infective products,” said Dudley.

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