Bug money

Identifying venture investments in novel antibacterials

Despite the tremendous public health need and the introduction of regulatory incentives including expedited review and market exclusivity, venture investing in antibiotics remains modest and focused primarily on clinical assets seeking to improve on known classes of small molecule antibiotics. But a small contingent is backing new mechanisms and preclinical assets that could avoid resistance for longer.

Since January 2015, VCs have invested just $1 billion in companies whose lead assets are intended to treat or prevent bacterial infection. The amount is about 4% of total venture funding during the same period (see “Betting Against Bugs”).

About 55% of that funding has consisted of follow-on venture investments of series B or higher in companies with products in the clinic that alter the delivery, specificity or resistance profiles of established chemical classes.

These strategies are and will continue to be an important tool in combating resistant infections, but new ideas also are desperately needed to get ahead of future drivers of resistance.

“Given that there are large scientific and financial barriers to true innovation, we do still need to fill the existing gaps in the pipeline with tweaks in existing molecules,” said Sarah Paulin, a

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