Cambridge BioTech Phico raises £7m

Posted on May 12, 2021 by Jonathan Symcox

Heather Fairhead, Phico

Cambridge-based BioTech company Phico Therapeutics has received £7 million in funding from a consortium of investors. 

BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active growth capital investor, led the round with a £3m investment, while a further £4m was received from existing backers. 

Founded in 2000 by Dr Heather Fairhead, Phico is developing a platform for a new generation of antibiotics to overcome antibacterial resistance.  

Antibiotic resistance is recognised internationally as one of the biggest threats facing global health and the effective treatment of certain diseases. It is estimated that drug resistant infections cause over 700,000 deaths around the world each year. 

BGF’s investment will support the continued development of Phico’s SASPject technology platform and in particular the development of its lead product, PT3.9, for use in ventilated Hospital Acquired Pneumonia and Ventilator Associated Pneumonia. 

SASPject utilises engineered bacteriophages to deliver a small acid-soluble spore protein (SASP) to a target pathogen, which then inactivates the bacterial DNA, stopping bacteria from metabolising or reproducing. 

The development of this technology, which represents the efforts of more than 20 years’ work from Dr Fairhead and her team, will represent a breakthrough in life sciences. 

The funding follows a recent announcement that Phico has been awarded a grant of up to £13.2m to support the development of SASPject PT3.9 from Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X), the Boston-based, global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating antibacterial research to tackle the global rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria. 

The milestone-based funding represents one of the largest awards made by CARB-X since it was established in 2016.  

“We are delighted that BGF have made this investment alongside many of Phico’s existing investor base,” said Fairhead.  

“Coupled with the recent award from CARB-X, these funds will enable the company to exemplify the technology in first in human intravenous studies. This is a very exciting time for Phico and we’re looking forward to great things ahead.” 

BGF is the one of the most active investors in the life sciences space. To date, it has backed more than 30 life science businesses, with its current portfolio spanning diagnostics, MedTech and digital health, as well as services, software and tools supporting therapeutic development. 

Tim Rea, investor at BGF said: “This is an extremely exciting time for Phico Therapeutics, and we are delighted to be partnering with this innovative business and expanding our presence in Cambridge and UK life sciences.  

BGF’s long-term approach to patient capital is a good match for this dynamic business, which has been at the forefront of building technological solutions to antibacterial resistance for over 20 years. 

We are thrilled to be working with Dr Heather Fairhead and the management team in helping them to realise the next great milestone for the company.” 

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