For the past 70 years, antibiotics have been successfully used to treat patients with bacterial and infectious diseases. Over time, however, many bacteria have adapted to the drugs designed to kill them, making the products less effective. These drug-resistant bacteria are a serious threat to global public health, and patients with infections caused by these bacteria are at increased risk of worse clinical outcomes and death. It is estimated that close to a million people die annually due to antibiotic resistance, costing the healthcare system billions of dollars each year, and finding new effective treatments is therefore vital.
The Waltham, MA-based startup Entasis Therapeutics is determined to improve patients’ health and outcomes by creating innovative, life-saving medicines to treat serious infectious diseases caused by drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. Their drug discovery platform combine the use of genetics tools, molecular simulations and modeling to enable the exploration of novel therapies, and designing novel compounds to fight the challenges of drug-resistance. Specifically, the startup has unique insights of bacterial ß-lactamases, a class of enzymes that is frequently responsible for antibiotic resistance.
Entasis’ lead product, ETX0914, is a novel oral antibiotic in Phase 2 clinical trials for the treatment of uncomplicated gonorrhea. Uncomplicated gonorrhea is becoming increasingly difficult to treat, and resistance to last resort treatments have been reported in several countries. In fact, gonorrhea may soon become untreatable. Studies have demonstrated potent activity in vitro, and the current Phase 2 trial was initiated in late 2014. The drug candidate has also been designated a Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) by the U.S. FDA and awarded a Fast Track status.
N.gonorrhoeae has developed resistance to almost all classes of antimicrobials recommended for treatment of uncomplicated gonorrhea, leaving only a single drug as a recommended first-line therapy. These infections result in increased rates of illness and complications, enhance transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated the bacteria as an immediate public health threat that requires urgent actions. Entasis has a unique opportunity to not only find new treatment options for gonorrhea, but entire new classes of antibiotics that can save millions of lives. The startup has multiple preclinical programs that could change how we treat bacterial diseases, highlighting the amazing potential of the startup!
Entasis is a spinout from AstraZeneca, who funded the startup with a $40 million series A. They recently announced they had raised $50 million in a Series B round, which was led by Clarus Ventures, and joined by Frazier Healthcare Partners, Novo A/S, and Eventide Funds. The money will help add to the startup’s pipeline and advancing their preclinical programs.