By Estel Grace Masangkay
Spero Therapeutics LLC announced that it has entered into an antibiotics partnership with Roche. Spero is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing new therapies for bacterial infections.
Under the terms of the new agreement, Roche will provide non-dilutive R&D funding to Spero. It will also have the option to acquire the biopharmaceutical company’s lead program at the Investigational New Drug phase at pre-agreed terms including upfront and milestone payments.
Ankit Mahadevia, venture partner at Atlas Venture and acting president of Spero, said, “We founded Spero with the idea that novel treatment approaches and a world-class team could address the very high unmet need in bacterial infections. We are particularly pleased to be partnering with Roche on our first program. 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.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than two million patients in the U.S. alone will be affected from antibiotic resistant bacteria every year. At least 23,000 will die from antibiotic resistant bacteria-related infections. Rates of bacterial resistance — even to last-line antibiotics — continue to climb, making many established therapies ineffective in hospital and community settings.
The company’s first program is currently developing an inhibitor of a new target that regulates the virulence and persistence of Gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. The program extends from the work of Spero’s scientific founder Dr. Laurence Rahme, associate professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and a leader in bacterial pathogenesis research. Dr. Rahme said, “Virulence — and persistence — targeted approaches have the potential to make a major impact in the field of anti-microbials, and I am delighted to collaborate with Spero on this effort.”
Spero was founded only last year by Dr. Mahadevia in partnership with Partners Innovation Fund and supported by the Atlas Venture seed program.