Biotech startup nets $3.4M to advance treatments for MRSA, salmonella bacterial infections

MRSA sporesMRSA is responsible for about 19,000 deaths and 368,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. each year, with annual costs of up to $4.2 billion to treat it, according to Pew Health Initiatives. The staph infection is resistant to most commonly used antibiotics. It’s just one of the hospital-acquired infections that hospitals are combating. A life science startup has raised fresh capital to advance the development of therapeutics to treat bacterial infections from MRSA to salmonella.

The Malvern, Pa.-based VenatoRx Pharmaceuticals was formed by Christopher Burns, president and chief scientific officer; Daniel Pevear, vice president of biology and grant development;  and Luigi Xerri, chief development officer. They were part of the executive team at Protez, a company that developed antibiotics to combat infections, including hospital-acquired infections.

VenatoRx is picking up where the discovery and development of innovative antibacterial treatments at Protez left off. Novartis acquired Protez in a $400 million acquisition in 2008, including $100 million up front. But in 2010 the technology was shelved and its staff laid off.

The biotech startup raised $3.4 million, according to a Form D document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. According to the filing, the biotech has nearly 60 investors

In 2010, VenatoRx won a $21.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health for its proposal to treat food- and water-borne infections.

Several different life science companies have taken different approaches to combating MRSA:

Other companies are developing ways to diagnose MRSA faster:

Hospital ICUs have also found some success in the way they identify patients with the infection and clean them, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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