San Diego’s Telephus Seeks $5M to Advance Anti-Infective Antibody

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advance treatments that rely on new monoclonal antibody drugs that target Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which account for 80 percent of all prosthetic joint infections.

With technology licensed from the University of Rochester lab of Edward Schwarz, who is the startup’s founder and chief scientific officer, Telephus plans to advance a monoclonal antibody to early stage trials. The company ultimately wants to develop a single-dose biologic drug that could be injected before a patient undergoes revision surgery to clean out the bacteria and repair the damage caused by a staph infection of artificial hips, knees, and other prosthetic joints.

“What we’re trying to do is supplement the patient’s immune system to fight this infection, without giving them a bunch more antibiotics, which they’re getting anyway,” says Telephus CEO Mark Benedyk, a biotech consultant and longtime industry executive.

Mark Benedyk

Mark Benedyk

Benedyk says he initially worked with Schwarz as a consultant, and together they developed a strategy to start a company around the original biologic product. “Eddie approached me with a good deal of very high-quality preclinical data in his animal model of implant-associated osteomyelitis,” Benedyk wrote in an e-mail, “It was immediately clear to me the high unmet medical need, and more stringent outcome requirements for reimbursement under the ACA [Affordable Care Act] made this a very valuable product.”

Telephus is now seeking to raise a $5 million Series A round to advance the company’s lead product to Phase I trials in 2016. So far, Telephus has raised more than $1.4 million from individual investors and the Wilson Sonsini law firm.

A key advantage of the germline clone that Telephus is developing, Benedyk says, is that it neutralizes a sticky enzyme that helps staph bacteria adhere to the implant surface, enabling the bacteria to form multi-layered biofilms.

Disrupting the biofilm is crucial. Otherwise, bacteria can fortify the outer layers of the biofilm, creating a kind of shield against antibiotics. The Telephus drug also is intended to … Next Page »

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