Calixa Passes Key Safety Test in Clinical Trial of New Antibiotic

Xconomy San Diego — 

MRSA is the headline-grabbing boogeyman of the day when it comes to the type of deadly infections that people can pick up in the hospital. But there are all sorts of other nasty bugs crawling around your healthcare facility, and San Diego-based Calixa Therapeutics says it is on its way to creating a new drug to fight one of them.

Calixa, which has remained stealthy for its first couple years in business, is announcing today that it has passed a Phase I clinical trial of 64 healthy volunteers, which shows its antibiotic for pseudomonal infections appears safe. The drug appears to have a good enough profile to move into the next phase during the second quarter, with a study of about 100 patients that will provide a measure of its effectiveness.

Calixa got its start when it raised a hefty $30 million in a Series A venture financing in November 2007 from some big-name venture firms, Domain Associates, Frazier Healthcare Ventures, and Canaan Partners. The investors are betting on Calixa’s ability to develop CXA-101, a new type of cephalosporin antibiotic, which is used against pseudomonas infections. This bug infects about four people out of every 1,000 discharged from the hospital, accounting for roughly one-tenth of all hospital-acquired infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Like other better-known bugs like MRSA or “C.Diff”, it is developing resistance to many common antibiotics, and can kill people.

The basic premise behind Calixa is to give doctors more weapons to knock down the invader. This type of infection made headlines back in January when Mariana Bridi da Costa, a 20-year-old model, died after picking up pseudomonas through a urinary tract infection.

“This is a nasty bug, and there’s an unmet medical need,” says James Ge, the company’s chief scientific officer.

Calixa is led by CEO Eckard Weber, … Next Page »

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