AstraZeneca PLC's Antibiotics Alums Emerge at Biotech Spinout Entasis Therapeutics

Published: Jul 02, 2015

AstraZeneca PLC's Antibiotics Alums Emerge at Biotech Spinout Entasis
July 1, 2015
By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Brand new Massachusetts biotech Entasis Therapeutics will be hiring nine new scientists as it begins its life as an AstraZeneca spinout, the company said Wednesday.

A motley crew of scientists from AstraZeneca PLC ’s former anti-infectives unit have now formally created the spinout Entasis Therapeutics, led by former site leader Manos Perros, and based in Waltham, Mass. The 21-member team will focus primarily on rolling their lead product, an antibiotic for the STD gonorrhea, into Phase II trials.

Perros said that will lead Entasis to bring its headcount up to 30 by year’s end, as hiring in booming Massachusetts continues. As part of that push, Entasis said Wednesday it had hired former Link and Eli Lilly and Company alum Michael E. Fitzgerald as chief financial officer, and AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ’s Chris White as chief business officer.

“We are on a mission to bring new cures to patients and clinicians who are battling serious bacterial infections and have a positive impact on the global healthcare crisis of antimicrobial resistance,” said Perros. “I want to welcome Chris and Michael to the company. They are both timely additions to the executive team and will play key roles in shaping the growth of Entasis.”

Entasis was created when AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot signaled a shift in strategy last year that would silo its anti-infectives into separate business units. That let Perros keep most of his team intact—and in place in Waltham. The fledgling biotech received $40 million in Series A funding from the AstraZeneca in March.

The company is betting on several drugs in its pipeline, but is most focused on ETX0914, a first-in-class, novel oral antibiotic currently in Phase II trials for the treatment of uncomplicated gonorrhea. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already awarded ETX0914 fast track status and it has been designated a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP).

Other preclinical programs use variations on novel science to target serious Gram-negative infections often associated with acute care settings, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae.

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