Avalon Funds Antibiotics Development at New Startup, RQx Pharmaceuticals

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s Avalon Ventures, which prefers to launch its own seed-stage startups, has provided $1 million in funding for RQx Pharmaceuticals, a new San Diego life sciences company founded earlier this year, according to a recent regulatory filing.

The funding appears to be part of an early stage round that could total as much as $7 million, according to the filing. Court R. Turner, a lawyer and venture partner at Avalon, was listed in the filing as the new company’s chief executive. Turner declined to comment in an exchange of e-mails last night, saying he doesn’t have much to say at this point.

RQx Pharmaceuticals doesn’t appear to have website, but the startup posted a job opening in early November for “a highly motivated and experienced research scientist to join our antibiotics drug discovery group.” The company also discloses in its regulatory filing that Floyd Romesberg, an associate professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute since 1998, is the lone scientist among the RQx directors.

Romesberg’s interests are all related to understanding novel protein function and how it is affected by the process of evolution, according to his online faculty biography at Scripps. Romesberg has an interest in identifying new ways of combating harmful bacteria, especially more-effective methods for attacking bacterial strains that have developed resistance to existing antibiotics. His research has focused in part on a family of natural antibiotic products known as arylomycins, which were shown in 2002 to block a particular bacterial signal pathway.

Avalon’s Turner also is listed on the firm’s website as the president, CEO, and a director of Carolus Therapeutics, a director of Zacharon Pharmaceuticals, and a director and the chief operating officer at Sova Pharmaceuticals. All three are Avalon portfolio companies, and Sova is among the firm’s most recent investments. Turner previously worked for Kalypsys and Aurora Biosciences.

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