Technology to beat superbugs secures €700000

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A company has raised ?700000 to assist in the development of treatments for antibiotic resistant bacteria.

A company has raised €700000 to assist in the development of treatments for antibiotic resistant bacteria, or 'superbugs', which are an increasing concern for patients and health professionals. The company, Biocontrol, received a large amount of funding from shareholders, but also managed to secure a €350000 investment from The Capital Fund.

Set up in 1997, Biocontrol has been developing the clinical use of bacteriophages - eaters of bacteria, which are natural occurring viruses that attack and destroy harmful bacteria. They are highly specialized, usually only attacking specific strains of a single species of bacteria.

"Phages behave similar to a stiletto, eliminating only the dangerous bacteria," says David Harper, the company's chief scientific officer. "We can identify the bacteria that are causing the disease or infection and target them with phages that will kill those bacteria and only those bacteria. This contrasts favourably with the blunt instrument approach of broad-spectrum antibiotics, which can kill a wide range of bacteria, including those that help the body. This can then leave the body open to other dangerous infections, for example, the emerging superbug Clostridium difficile."

Clinical trials for the company's first product, a topically applied phage treatment that controls Pseudemonas aeruginosa bacteria, are already well underway, with promising initial results.

"There is a global need for these new medicines," says Harper, who also added that the funding would be used to support existing clinical trials and the development of new products, including aerosol-applied treatments.


Ed Simpson, investment manager at The Capital Fund, says: "David Harper's team have developed some amazing products with clearly enormous potential. This investment is particularly pleasing for us as the end benefits, not just for the company and its backers, but for millions of patients worldwide, could be very significant."