BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - NeuTec Pharma plc plans to raise &163;10 million (US$14.4 million) in a listing on the Alternative Investment Market, London's junior market, to further develop its portfolio of antibodies that target antibiotic-resistant infections.

NeuTec was spun out of Manchester University in 1997 by husband and wife team James Burnie and Ruth Matthews, to commercialize research involving patients infected by superbugs following surgery. They compared patients who recovered following intensive care for a hospital-acquired infection with those who died, and discovered that survivors produced antibodies to the antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The company’s two lead products are Aurograb, which targets methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and Mycograb, an antibody against the severe yeast infection candidiasis. Mycograb is in a Phase II multicenter trial involving 60 patients, while Aurograb is due to enter Phase II trials in the next few months.

MRSA is endemic in hospitals around the world, with 1.5 million cases per year. Candidiasis accounts for 7 percent of hospital-acquired infections in the U.S., with immunocompromised patients being particularly at risk. Mycograb has been granted orphan drug status in Europe.

NeuTec plans to license the two lead products on completion of Phase II and said it already has received interest from pharmaceutical partners.

Six other antibodies are in earlier stages of development and the company said its technologies for identifying, sequencing and manufacturing antibodies is relevant to other infections. NeuTec (short for Neutralizing Technology) has filed patents on the bacterial antigens to which its antibodies bind to prevent anyone else from developing therapies that touch these antigens.

Burnie said NeuTec s products also have the potential to increase the effectiveness of existing antibiotics when given in combination with existing antibiotics or antifungals.

In October 1998, NeuTec raised 7.3 million in venture capital funding from 3i plc and ABN Amro. Burnie and Matthews, who own 16 percent of the company, and Manchester University, which owns 15 percent, have agreed not to sell any shares in the AIM flotation.