Zurex Pharma Raises $9M to Fight Hospital-Acquired Infections

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Zurex Pharma, a Middleton, WI-based company developing antimicrobial products for preventing infections acquired in hospitals, clinics, and home care settings, says it has raised $9 million in new funding. Zurex says it plans to use some of the proceeds from the investment to support the development of its lead product candidate, a pre-surgical skin preparation called ZurexPrep.

“We remain focused on working toward our first product approval [and] ongoing product development activities,” Zurex CEO Carmine Durham says in an e-mail.

According to a press release, Zurex’s existing shareholders led the round. Square 1 Bank, a division of Pacific Western Bank, was the only new investor Zurex named in the release. The company’s previous backers include Baird Venture Partners, Peak Ridge Capital, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, and Wisconsin Investment Partners.

Launched in 2010, Zurex has raised a total of more than $27 million in outside investment, Durham says.

The product candidates Zurex is developing are aimed at preventing or minimizing infections acquired in settings where patients receive care. A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2009 estimated the direct cost of hospital-associated infections to be at least $28 billion per year.

Last year, Zurex completed two Phase 3 clinical trials of ZurexPrep, which is designed to prevent surgical site infections. The company says the majority of such infections “are caused by normally harmless native bacteria on a patient’s skin or body migrating into a surgical wound.”

The two studies enrolled a combined 1,330 patients, according to a website that tracks clinical trials. They were aimed at measuring the efficacy of ZurexPrep compared to ChloraPrep, a product sold by Becton, Dickinson and Co. that Durham says is generally considered the market leader in preoperative, infection-fighting skin preparations. Specifically, the studies measured how effective the two treatments were at reducing the amount of native bacteria on the abdominal and groin areas after each was applied there, he says.

Zurex is in the final stages of submitting an application to the FDA that, if approved, would allow the company to begin marketing ZurexPrep in the U.S., according to Tuesday’s release.

On its website, Zurex says it’s also developing several other products alongside ZurexPrep. They include an antibiotic-free antiseptic hand rub, post-surgical disinfectants that would be applied at incision sites, and a product designed to prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections. Some of the proceeds from the new funding round will “fuel ongoing platform development activities,” Zurex says in the release.

Zurex was founded as a spinout of Ash Access Technology. Durham previously served as an executive at Ash, which is headquartered in Lafayette, IN, and has an office in Madison, WI.

Zurex also operates a subsidiary business, Zurex PharmAgra. That company sells treatments developed using Zurex Pharma’s antimicrobial platform, and targets the agricultural and veterinary industries. Zurex PharmAgra’s flagship product, ZuraLac, is a sanitizing and moisturizing treatment that the business claims protects cow teats from bacteria.