Glox Therapeutics, a company pioneering the development of precision antibiotic therapies based on naturally occurring bacteriocins, has raised £4.3m in seed funding to develop effective targeted therapeutics against antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacteria.
The company will use the funding to establish laboratories in Oxford and Glasgow and expand its team to accelerate its bacteriocin development programme. The investment round was led by Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Scottish Enterprise.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major public health crisis throughout the world. It is estimated that around 1.27 million people per year die as a result of AMR due to the therapeutic failure of available antibiotics. By 2050, AMR is predicted to surpass 10 million deaths globally per year at a cost of $100 trillion dollars; hence, there is an urgent need to develop new effective antimicrobial therapeutics.
Glox Therapeutics is developing precision antibiotics utilising engineered protein bacteriocins. These novel antimicrobials exhibit remarkable potency and specificity, enabling them to effectively and selectively target Gram-negative pathogens that have already developed AMR, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Bacteriocins, which are naturally produced by bacteria, possess antimicrobial properties against strains of the same or related species. Leveraging the power of bacteriocins, Glox Therapeutics aims to advance the field of antimicrobial therapy by overcoming resistance to traditional antibiotics. It will focus on selectively eradicating target pathogens while preserving the patient’s microbiomes, ensuring a more balanced and effective treatment strategy with reduced side-effects.
The company was founded in February 2023 by recognised leaders in the bacteriocin field: Prof Daniel Walker from the University of Glasgow (now at the University of Strathclyde) and Prof Colin Kleanthous, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci), from the University of Oxford. Dr James Clark was appointed as CEO in April this year. He has been involved in precision medicine for 25 years and has extensive C-suite level experience in the development and commercialisation of diagnostic and therapeutic products at PredictImmune, EnteroBiotix, Inivata, Enterome, MDxHealth and GSK.
“Our mission is to provide physicians and patients with highly potent, targeted antimicrobial therapies that can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria for which there are diminishing options available for treatment,” said Dr James Clark, CEO, Glox Therapeutics.
“This seed funding is testament to the promise of Glox Therapeutics’ precise antibiotic therapies, and we are thrilled to have the backing of such high-calibre investors. This will enable us to establish laboratories and attract top-tier talent, and I’m delighted to lead the team as we embark on our pioneering bacteriocin development programme, with the first target being P. aeruginosa,” he added.
Uzma Khan, Vice Principal Economic Development and Innovation, University of Glasgow, said: “Bacteriocins offer the precision needed to target pathogens resistant to current treatments. Our novel platform, developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, circumvents problems traditionally associated with using bacteriocins as therapeutics. We look forward to seeing the company carry this forward to help deliver Gram-negative antimicrobial drugs.”
Prof Chas Bountra, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Innovation, University of Oxford, said: “There is a growing consensus that the next generation of antibiotics should be narrow-spectrum therapeutics, able to target specific pathogenic AMR bacteria without collateral damage to the wider human microbiome, which is so vital to our health and wellbeing. Glox Therapeutics’ high-potency therapies offer the long-awaited solution to address these urgent unmet medical needs in tackling treatment-resistant bacterial infections.”
Dr Niklas Czeloth, Executive Director / Investment Manager, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, said: “The Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund is excited to invest in Glox Therapeutics, thereby advancing the development of its ground-breaking class of bacteriocins. In a world grappling with the escalating threat of AMR, there is an urgent global need for innovative approaches that target novel mechanisms devoid of any pre-existing resistance. We firmly believe that Glox Therapeutics holds immense potential to make a profound impact in the battle against antibiotic-resistant infections.”
Kerry Sharp, Director of Entrepreneurship and Investment, Scottish Enterprise, said: “Glox Therapeutics is a fantastic example of an ambitious spin-out that’s commercialising world-class life sciences research with the potential to save lives worldwide. The calibre of Scottish early-stage companies, like Glox Therapeutics, continues to attract international investment, enabling our youngest companies to positively contribute to Scotland’s economy as they scale up.”