BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Start-up RecombinoGen Ltd. has an initial validation of its technology platform for generating novel antibiotics against resistant bacteria, and has embarked on its first funding round to raise £5 million (US$9.1 million).

The Guildford-based company produced a series of compounds it said are active against antibiotic resistant infections including methycillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci. They are based on metabolites from a strain of streptomyces generated by RecombinoGen using its High Frequency Recombination (HFR) technology. That provides a rapid method for the targeted modification of bacteria, based on an understanding of the role of individual bacterial genes.

RecombinoGen says HFR could be applied to modify existing antibiotics that are based on bacterial metabolites, to maintain, or reinstate potency against resistant bacteria. The intellectual property was generated by Colin Smith, chief scientific officer, who is a professor of functional genomics at the School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at the University of Surrey.

"While the data is as yet preclinical, we have a couple of proprietary compounds coming through, and the opportunity to make all sorts of modifications to our own and other people's compounds," Robert Mansfield, executive chairman, told BioWorld International.

Mansfield, former CEO of Vernalis Group plc, said he has had initial discussions with a number of U.S. companies that are interested in using the HFR technology and has talked to U.S. venture capitalists about funding.

The £5 million first round would provide sufficient funding for the next two and a half years, enabling RecombinoGen to continue development of its lead products and produce some semi-synthetic derivatives. Mansfield said the route for commercializing the company's products has yet to be decided.

"The advantage in the antibiotic field is that there is a high demand, so a small company can be effective in marketing its products," he said. "But it will depend on funding. We may have a development partner, but would ideally take the lead product through to market ourselves."

RecombinoGen was set up in 2004 with seed funding of £400,000 from the University of Surrey Seed Fund and Generics Asset Management Ltd.