What You Need to Know About Spero

What You Need to Know About Spero
December 2, 2015
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Spero Therapeutics, founded in 2014 and located in Cambridge, Mass., is developing of new antibiotics. The company is focused exclusively on gram-negative bacteria and utilizes the Spero Potentiator program, which works to enhance existing drugs by increasing their potency against multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria. Its MvfR inhibitor program targets a pathway involved in critical bacterial processes, virulence and persistence.

Company Leadership
Ankit Mahadevia—chief executive officer. Formerly a venture partner in the life sciences group at Atlas Venture, Mahadevia was behind the formation of eight companies focused on novel drug discovery platforms and therapeutics. He led three of them as chief executive officer. Prior to joining Atlas in 2008, he worked on product and business development with the founding team at Arcion Therapeutics.

Thomas Parr—chief scientific officer. Prior to joining Spero, Parr was the chief scientific officer at Fedora Pharmaceuticals. Before that, he was chief scientific officer at Targanta Therapeutics, now part of The Medicines Company .

John Tomayko—chief medical officer. He was previously senior director of clinical development in the infectious diseases therapeutic unit at GlaxoSmithKline . He is a panelist on the Brookings Council of Antibacterial Drug Development.

Company Financing
Spero was founded in collaboration with the Partners Innovation Fund, and supported by the Atlas Venture seed program. Atlas Venture, SR One, and Partners Innovation Fund invested in the $3 million Series A financing round.

In June 2015, the company announced the completion of a $30 million Series A financing round. Lundbeckfond Ventures led the round as a new investor with participation from other new investors Merck Research Ventures and The Kraft Group. Existing investors participated, including Atlas Venture, SR One, and Partners Innovation Fund.

The company’s first program came out of the work of Laurence Rahme, the company’s scientific founder. It is developing an inhibitor of a novel target that controls the virulence and persistence of Gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

In June 2015, after completion of a $30 million Series A financing round, the company indicated it had expanded its pipeline of anti-infectives through the addition of a Potentiator program that targeted Gram-negative infections. It expects to advance the Potentiator franchise into clinical development in 2016.

Market Competition
Competitors include Cubist Pharmaceuticals , which was acquired by Merck in 2014; Opsonix, which isn’t working on antibiotics per se but on technology to filter out infectious agents from the blood; and Nabriva Therapeutics. Two other startups that focus on anti-infectives are Cempra and Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals .

Dollars and Deals
Right from the beginning, Spero had a deal with Roche , which provided non-dilutive research-and-development funding with the option to acquire its lead program at the investigational new drug (IND) application phase for pre-negotiated terms, including an upfront payment and milestone payments. “We are particularly pleased to be partnering with Roche on our first program,” Mahadevia said in a statement in 2014. “The Roche team’s commitment to developing first-in-class therapies in the invigorated field of antibacterials makes them an ideal partner for Spero as we expand our efforts in this area.”

The company also in-licensed several programs from Northern Antibiotics, although no deal terms were disclosed.

What to Look For
The company plans to push its Potentiator franchise into clinical trials in 2016. The company indicates it has “multiple combinations of approved agents with potentiators that it is advancing into clinical studies for a range of indications including complicated urinary tract infections and complicated intra-abdominal infections. These programs were in-licensed from Northern Antibiotics.”

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