Microbia Inc. raised $26 million in a Series C private equity financing round that will be used to fund its programs for developing anti-infective drugs.
The round was led by Fidelity Biosciences Group, a division of Fidelity Investments, marking the fund’s first investment.
“It will take us well past 2004 because, in addition to our equity financing, we’ll also fund our drug development efforts with partnerships within our antibiofilm and Anti-Invasins drug discovery programs, and also partnerships in our Precision Engineering program,” said Bart Henderson, vice president of business development for Cambridge, Mass.-based Microbia.
Henderson said the Precision Engineering program is important to Microbia because it can generate revenue in the near term. In various pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals production, Microbia said it has determined how to make those processes more efficient using genetic and genomics tools combined with knowledge of the regulatory circuitry governing microbial physiology and metabolism.
Microbia’s biofilms programs is focused on developing therapeutics to target biofilms and its Anti-Invasins program is focused on developing a new class of antifungal drugs.
All drug candidates are in the preclinical stage, Henderson said.
“[The Anti-Invasins] program is developing compounds that block fungi’s transition to a virulent invasive state, and we expect these drugs to be used as a prophylaxis and also for treatment,” Henderson said, explaining that there is a significant unmet need in treating fungal infections.
“There is quite a high mortality rate, particularly in immunocompromised patients, where mortality can exceed 40 percent for systemic fungal infections,” Henderson said.
The antibiofilm program targets bacteria in their biofilm form in which they adhere to a surface and are resistant to conventional antibiotics. Surface-attached bacterial communities are up to 1,000-fold more resistant to antibiotics. Any drugs to fight biofilms would have applications in medical devices and deep-vein catheters, among other areas.
Those drugs also would be important in dental care, Henderson said, and could be used in something as simple as toothpaste to fight plaque, also a biofilm.
Another focus of that program is to fight biofilms in respiratory infections and bone infections, which are very difficult to resolve, Henderson said.
Since its inception in 1998, Microbia has raised $59 million. The company was incorporated in January 1998 and began operations in December of that year. CEO Peter Hecht was a co-founder of the company, along with three other former research fellows at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.
Microbia also said that Mark Peterson, president of Fidelity Biosciences Group, has been named to its board.
Other investors participating in the financing included Venrock Associates, of New York; Polaris Venture Partners, of Waltham, Mass.; Essex Investment Management Co., of Boston; Aberdare Ventures, of San Francisco; and BancBoston Ventures, of Boston, as well as numerous other private investors.