Antibiotics upstart Allecra snags €15M VC round amid superbug scare

Amid an outcry for new options against drug-resistant bacteria, Allecra Therapeutics has taken off with a €15 million ($19.6 million) Series A round of venture financing. The startup plans to use the money to fund clinical development of a pair of antibiotics against multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria, which have grabbed headlines as some of the most dangerous superbugs around.

With operations in Lorrach, Germany and Saint Louis, France, Allecra formed this year through a partnership of CEO Nicholas Benedict, India's Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals as its two lead backers, Forbion Capital Partners and Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners. In addition to the two lead backers, EMBL Ventures has also invested in Allecra.

Many large pharma groups have retreated or cut back development of antibiotics over the years as R&D dollars went to juicier opportunities in oncology, cardio-metabolic and other major disease areas. AstraZeneca ($AZN) is one of the most recent pharma players in antibiotics to announce cutbacks. It's left the world with far fewer new antibiotics in the pipeline than health officials would like in the face of the rising threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, and partners behind Allecra have pounced on the opportunity to meet growing demand for new treatment options.

"The formation of Allecra comes at a time when governments, non-governmental agencies and the medical community are crying out for urgent and decisive action to tackle 'the epidemic of antibiotic resistance'," Benedict said in a statement. "Our mission at Allecra is to develop new treatments which overcome selected bacterial resistance and which can be used to treat patients whose infections may otherwise have disastrous consequences."

Allecra has brought in some top experts in the field to complement the veteran group of biotech investors that seem committed to the company's plan for antibiotics development. With the pipeline of antibiotics for some serious bugs down to a trickle, the justification for starting Allecra seems sufficient.

- here's the release