Destiny Pharma has started trading on the London Stock Exchange to support its search for new antibiotics that can fight resistant bacteria like MRSA.
Destiny Pharma, based in Brighton, UK, has entered the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange with an initial placement of £15.3M (€16.7M), which put its starting market cap at £65.4M (€71.2M) when it opened this morning.
The funds raised will be used to advance the development of the company’s lead drug candidate, XF-73, into Phase IIb clinical trials. The compound is being tested as an alternative to traditional antibiotics for the prevention of Staphylococcus aureus infections, including the antibiotic-resistant MRSA strain, after surgery.
XF-73 is a dicationic porphyrin molecule belonging to a new class of antibiotics called XF drugs. These drugs can kill bacteria in all growth states, unlike traditional antibiotics, which usually only inhibit growth in active cultures. And they also seem to be able to attack the bacteria when they form biofilms, a structure that protects them from antibiotics.
Like with many other new antibiotics, the precise mechanism of action of XF-73 it is not known beyond that it targets the bacterial membrane of a broad range of Gram positive bacteria and certain Gram negative species. However, Destiny Pharma has published results proving XF-73 has a distinct mechanism of action when compared to other membrane-targeting antibiotics like ancomycin, mupirocin, daptomycin, retapamulin, and fusidic acid. So far, the company hasn’t found bacterial strains resistant to the new antibiotic.
With such a promising candidate, Destiny Pharma is trying to prevent post-surgery infections. It is estimated that one in every three people carry S. aureus in the nose, without symptoms. However, this puts them at risk of severe infections after they undergo surgery. Nasal decolonization of S. aureus is a practice recommended by the FDA to prevent infections, but mupirocin, the antibiotic currently used, has been linked to the development of MRSA strains that puts the patients at greater risks.
If successful, Destiny Pharma could enter a big market where new products are desperately needed given the rapid increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that is rendering doctors useless against infections. Very few antibiotics have been approved in the past 40 years, and most of them are derivatives of existing antibiotics, against which bacteria can rapidly become resistant. Efforts to develop new drug classes, from companies like Destiny Pharma, Iterum Therapeutics or Auspherix, will be key to fight the rise of the superbugs.
Images via Kateryna Kon /Shutterstock; Destiny Pharma