Atox Bio gets $23m for flesh-eating bacteria therapy

Funds will be used to advance development of a novel therapy to treat ‘flesh-eating’ bacterial infections.

Ness Ziona-based Atox Bio, developer of therapeutics for severe infections, has raised up to $23 million in a Series E investment led by SR One with participation by Lundbeckfond Ventures and OrbiMed Israel.

The funds will go toward initiating a late-stage clinical study of AB103, a novel therapy for the treatment of necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI), commonly referred to as “flesh-eating” bacterial infections, as well as other severe infections. The study is expected to start in the second half of 2015.

NSTI are rare, fast-progressing infections that result in significant tissue destruction and systemic disease leading to multiple organ dysfunction. Currently, there are no approved treatments for NSTI.

AB103 is a novel immune-modulator discovered by Hebrew University’s Prof. Raymond Kaempfer and Dr. Gila Arad and licensed from Yissum, the university’s technology transfer company. This short peptide offers a unique approach in the treatment of infectious diseases by modulating, but not shutting down, the host immune system.

Targeting the host response rather than the pathogen sidesteps the serious problem of drug resistance and provides a multisystem solution for bacterial infections regardless of the pathogen that caused them.

In a Phase 2 study in patients with NSTI, patients treated with AB103 showed meaningful improvement and a faster resolution of organ dysfunction, spent fewer days in the intensive care unit, required fewer days of assisted ventilation and needed fewer surgical procedures to remove infected tissue.

Because AB103 is the first product specifically developed for NSTI, it won fast-tracked “orphan drug” status from the US Food and Drug Administration.

“Atox Bio’s management has done a fantastic job of developing AB103 based on ground breaking research that came out of Prof. Kaempfer’s lab at the Hebrew University, all the way to clinical proof of concept with the successful completion of a Phase 2 trial,” said SR One partner Matthew Foy. “If approved, this treatment could help thousands of patients each year who suffer the debilitating consequences of NSTI.”

About Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is a writer and associate editor at ISRAEL21c. Prior to moving to Israel in 2007, she was a specialty writer and copy editor at a daily newspaper in New Jersey and has freelanced for a variety of newspapers and periodicals since 1984.