Big Pharma-backed $1B AMR Action Fund picks 1st antimicrobial biotech investments

Big Pharma-backed $1B AMR Action Fund picks 1st antimicrobial biotech investments

The AMR Action Fund, backed by Big Pharma such as Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Bayer, and others, has selected the first recipients of its $1 billion fund to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections: Adaptive Phage Therapeutics and Venatorx Pharmaceuticals.

The two small biotechs will be the first portfolio companies of the AMR Action Fund, an initiative established in partnership with the World Health Organization, the European Investment Bank, and the Wellcome Trust. Other member pharmacies include GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Merck KGaA, Novartis, Roche, Takeda, Teva, and many more. The fund has $1 billion to advance antimicrobial treatments by investing in clinically qualified companies working on antibiotics. The exact investments of each company were not disclosed.

Adaptive Phage has multiple therapies in phase 1/2 development for prosthetic joint infections, recurrent urinary tract infections, and others. Biotechnology has developed a library of naturally occurring bacteriophages and viruses that can kill bacteria.

The AMR Equity Fund’s contribution is seen as an extension of the company’s Series B, which has grown by $40.75 million over the past year.

Venator has been in the clinic a little longer, and the company announced last month that the antibiotic cefepime taniborbactam has become the primary target of a Phase 3 trial aimed at treating UTIs with a beta-lactase inhibitor by year’s end. Intravenous treatment of nosocomial bacterial pneumonia and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia is also being investigated.

The FDA has previously granted expedited specifications and designations to Venatorx-eligible infectious disease products, providing five years of exclusivity or expedited regulatory review.

Venator receives an investment from the AMR Equity Fund as part of Series C, also announced today. The company did not disclose the round’s full funding round but said AMR Action Fund is the lead investor.

The money will help Venatorx advance its antibacterial portfolio, including regulatory activities for cefepime-taniborbactam. The oral antibiotic combination of ceftibuten with VNRX-7145 should also be improved.

Venator has previously received funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Wellcome Trust, the Biomedical Research and Development Authority, and other government agencies. In November 2021, Venatorx entered into a license and discovery agreement with Roche to develop small molecule drugs targeting gram-negative bacteria.

According to Henry Skinner, CEO of the AMR Stock Fund, the AMR Stock Fund will provide approximately $100 million in equity this year. He urged policymakers around the world to implement market reforms to help the Mission fight drug-resistant pathogens.

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