UPDATED: Melinta's CEO steps down amid a big Phase III push

Former Melinta Therapeutics CEO Mary Szela

Melinta Therapeutics CEO Mary Szela has left the company in the middle of a late-stage program for its lead antibiotic, a move that comes just months after the biotech raised $67 million in equity financing.

Szela stepped down earlier this month, according to Melinta, ending a tenure that began in April 2013. The company's board "decided to make a change," Melinta Senior Vice President Lyn Baranowski said, and Szela left "under very amicable circumstances."

The company didn't provide any further details behind her departure, and Szela didn't respond to a request for comment. Eugene Sun, Melinta's head of R&D, is now serving as interim CEO, Melinta said.

The shakeup comes amid an all-important clinical effort for Melinta, which is working through a Phase III trial with delafloxacin, a treatment for acute bacterial skin and skin-structure infections (ABSSSIs). Last year, the company abandoned an effort to develop delafloxacin in gonorrhea, pivoting to ABSSSIs and launching a Phase III study to confirm its potential. Now Melinta says it's on track to wrap up that trial early next year and potentially submit the drug for FDA approval shortly thereafter.

To pay delafloxacin's way, the New Haven, CT, company raised $67 million in June, tapping high-profile biotech backer Malin to get the cash it needs to move toward commercialization.

Melinta, then Rib-X, recruited Szela in 2013 to spearhead delafloxacin's development, part of a wave of management changes spurred by major investor Vatera Healthcare Partners. The company, under its old name, was a 2011 Fierce 15 honoree.

Szela spent nearly 25 years at Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) before joining Melinta. She remains a member of the boards of Novo Nordisk ($NVO), Coherus BioSciences ($CHRS) and Suneva Medical.

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