Oxford Drug Design (ODD) wins major funding awards from CARB-X, the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and an equity investment led by o2h Ventures totaling over £8m to develop new antibiotics effective against drug-resistant superbugs and to expand its proprietary machine learning computational platform.
Oxford Drug Design receives over £8m in grant and equity investment
Oxford Drug Design Limited, a biotechnology company with a proprietary computational and machine learning platform, announced that CARB-X (Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Accelerator) has agreed to back their lead in-house discovery project with a milestone dependent, non-dilutive, award for over £5M. In parallel, the project will be further accelerated by an award of £2M from DHSC through their Small Business Research Initiative funding stream. At the same time, o2h Ventures, which launched Britain’s first therapeutics and AI fund earlier this year, led an equity investment into ODD.
The combined funds will be used to advance its Dual-Target aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase inhibitor (DaaRSi) project, which is developing new antibiotics effective against drug-resistant ‘Superbugs’ and to continue to develop the machine learning platform to tackle other valuable pharmaceutical targets.
Drug-resistant superbugs are on the rise worldwide and represent a threat to global public health and health security.According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 700,000 people die each year worldwide from bacterial infections. In the United States, an estimated 23,000 people die each year from drug-resistant bacterial infections. In Europe, the number of deaths yearly is estimated at 33,000.
Oxford Drug Design CEO, Paul Finn, said “To win these two highly competitive awards is a remarkable success and a tremendous validation of the strength of our science and its potential to deliver a new antibiotic to treat drug resistant bacterial infections. The funding provided by DHSC and CARB-X will significantly accelerate the development of our series of aminoacyl tRNA synthetase inhibitors. We are also delighted to be supported by o2h Ventures, who have been instrumental to the success of the equity funding round. Multiple compound series have been identified with the aid of our innovative cheminformatics and machine learning technologies. These compounds represent new classes of antibiotics with activity against Gram-negative organisms, an area of critical unmet medical need for which the clinical development pipeline is very limited.”
About Oxford Drug Design and its aminoacyl-tRNA Synthetase Programme
Using its proprietary suite of cheminformatics and drug design technologies, including chemistry-informed applications of machine learning, Oxford Drug Design has discovered novel classes of small-molecule synthetase inhibitors with activity against Gram-negative ESKAPE*pathogens. The compounds possess a novel mode of interaction with the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase target. A design strategy of targeting more than one synthetase decreases the probability of resistance emerging to the new compounds compared to aaRS inhibitors pursued in the past. Oxford Drug Design intends to progress these compounds as quickly as possible through hit-to-lead and optimization towards clinical development.
*ESKAPE pathogens are the bacteria identified by WHO as those having the most critical unmet need for novel therapeutics. They include E. coli and K. pneumoniae, organisms responsible for many hard-to-treat infections.
CARB-X, led by Boston University, is a global non-profit partnership dedicated to accelerating early development antibacterial R&D to address the rising global threat of drug-resistant bacteria. CARB-X funding is provided by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Wellcome Trust, a global charity based in the UK working to improve health globally; Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (UK GAMRIF); the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and with in-kind support from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A non-profit partnership, CARB-X is investing more than $500 million from 2016-2021 to support innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines and rapid diagnostics. CARB-X supports the world’s largest and most innovative pipeline of preclinical products against drug-resistant infections. CARB-X focuses exclusively on high priority drug-resistant bacteria, especially Gram-negatives. CARB-X is headquartered at Boston University School of Law. https://carb-x.org
The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector and gain contracts to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping. https://sbri.innovateuk.org
About o2h Ventures
o2h Ventures Limited has launched the o2h Therapeutics and AI fund which is the first S/EIS fund in the UK solely focused on early stage biotech therapeutics and related AI opportunities. The geographic scope shall be UK wide including Oxford and London but will target the growing Cambridge biotech cluster. The Fund is structured to be S/EIS compliant providing tax breaks for UK taxpayers.
The biotech sector is one of the leading sectors in the UK economy. The large pharma companies now rely on the small innovative biotech’s for new ideas in disease areas such as cancer, genomics, anti-ageing and neurosciences amongst others which has led to higher potential exit valuations.
The o2h team are leaders in the biotech community and have been actively involved as investors, holding various board/industry positions as well as being engaged in grassroots scientific activity for over 20 years. o2h operate from their proprietary 2.7 acre The Mill SciTech Park where they are developing a unique model for incubating small life science companies.