Tetraphase hauls in $45M C round to back antibiotic work

Watertown, MA-based Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals has hauled in a $45 million C round--a hefty chunk of cash that will open a development runway stretching out up to two-and-a-half years. Over that time, CEO Guy Macdonald tells FierceBiotech, the company will put its technology for developing a better breed of tetracycline antibiotics to the clinical development test, taking a lead program--TP-434--through Phase II and ushering two more into the clinic. By the end of this stretch, the biotech should be able to position itself for a collaboration deal and possibly even an IPO.

Tetraphase has been working with scientific know-how from Harvard to develop what Macdonald likes to call "the super drug to beat the super bug." Its lead program is designed to prove the efficacy of a new antibiotic specifically designed to fight gram-negative pathogens.

"We've identified doses that deliver efficacy equivalent to the gold standard available today," says the CEO. And the developer is preparing a Phase I study of an oral version "that will make it unique."

About two years ago, the company's hiring focus had been largely on the chemistry side of the business. The staff is still heavily concentrated on lab work. And while Tetraphase has expanded somewhat since, the CEO says the staff should stay in the 25 to 30 range for a while.

"We have the lead program and we have two other programs just selected to take into" the clinic for urinary tract infections and pneumonia. "If we move all three forward," says Macdonald, "this (round) will last two, two-and-a-half years." The sweet spot for Tetraphase is promising proof-of-concept data in Phase II with other programs in early-stage development. Then in 18 to 24 months the company can do a partnership deal, or perhaps even an IPO, if it makes sense.

Excel Venture Management led the round with participation from existing investors CMEA Ventures, Fidelity Biosciences, Flagship Ventures, Mediphase Venture Partners and Skyline Ventures.

- here's the Tetraphase release for more info