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Building a better haystack

How Macrolide's chemistry platform could accelerate antibiotics innovation

A year after raising $22 million in a series A round, Macrolide Pharmaceuticals Inc. has disclosed details of how its antibiotic discovery platform is creating a library of compounds with greater structural diversity than was previously possible - starting with eight simple building blocks. The company has created over 650 macrolides, including several with potent activity against Gram-negative pathogens as well as Gram-positive bacteria, the type of bug the antibiotic class has traditionally been most effective against.

CEO Lawrence Miller told BioCentury the company's primary focus is on compounds against multidrug-resistant Gram-negative infections, and it expects to choose a clinical candidate in 2017. "While we're not there yet, we certainly already have better activity than any other macrolide that's ever been published."

Macrolide spun out of Harvard University in February of 2015 after a year and a half in its Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, and having secured funding from SR One, Roche Ventures, Novartis Venture Fund and Gurnet Point Capital.

The premise was to rethink how macrolide antibiotics are made, and move away from the practice that has dominated for 60 years of starting with erythromycin, and using a series of increasingly complex steps to modify its functional groups. Traditionally, erythromycin has been generated by fermentation, and then put through procedures for chemical modification - a process dubbed "semisynthesis."

Andrew Myers, co-founder and SAB chairman of Macrolide and professor of chemistry and biology at Harvard, told BioCentury that

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