Nabriva preps for PhIII antibiotic trial with a $120M VC commitment

A transatlantic group of venture investors crowded into a $120 million venture round for Nabriva Therapeutics, offering enough cash to get started with a Phase III study for a new antibiotic.

Significantly Vivo Capital and OrbiMed, both U.S.-based biotech investors, led the new round for Nabriva, which is based in Vienna with a clinical development team and CEO headquartered in Philadelphia. The international group was filled out with EcoR1 Capital, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Life Sciences and new investment from existing investor HBM. Existing investors Phase4 Partners, Wellcome Trust, GLSV and Novartis Venture Fund also participated in the round. 

The backers--which put up a first tranche with $50 million--were drawn by Nabriva's "industry first" feat, developing an IV and oral "pleuromutilin." Its lead antibiotic is lefamulin (BC‑3781), which will be put into Phase III for community-acquired bacterial pneumonia. And there are ambitious plans to explore its potential for "pediatric uses and potential additional indications including hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia (HABP/VABP), acute bacterial skin and skin structure infections (ABSSSI) and several other indications such as sexually transmitted infections (including MDR gonorrhoea) and osteomyelitis."

"There has certainly been a comeback and continuing interest," Colin Broom, the CEO at Nabriva, tells FierceBiotech. "One of the problems is a dearth of opportunities in antibiotics. This is a new class of antibiotics and they don't come along very often."

Broom, who had been the CSO at ViroPharma before Shire bought out the company for $4.2 billion, was recruited to run Nabriva last year. His first task was to head out to the venture groups to raise these new funds. And he's been building up a clinical development team in Philadelphia with a clear mandate to launch two late-stage studies this year and next as the biotech preps for a commercial launch in the U.S. The latest round gets Nabriva to regulatory submissions in the U.S. and Europe if everything goes according to plan, Broom says.

Broom was also a director at NPS before Shire bought out that company as well.

The big round helps highlight the growing activity in antibiotics deals. After a lengthy drought in clinical activity, major pharmas like Merck ($MRK), Roche ($RHHBY) and Actavis ($ACT) have been carefully picking and choosing new products and deals in the space. Government officials have been clamoring for years for new antibiotics, adding some marketing incentives for developers which have been willing to break new ground in the clinic. The new funding also spotlights a growing trend in the global biotech industry as more investors make the trek to Europe to find new players to back.

Nabriva was founded 9 years ago as a spinout from Sandoz and currently has a staff of 34.

"The development of novel antibiotics with a unique mechanism of action against these pathogens is critically important in developing a new generation of drugs," said Denise Pollard-Knight, the chairman of the supervisory board. "This Series B is a strong financial and scientific endorsement and provides Nabriva with a solid foundation to build a patient-centric global biopharmaceutical company."  

- here's the release

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