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The Antibiotics Dilemma

Executive Summary

The new antibiotics start-ups make perfect sense: big marketplace need; straightforward clinical development. But the biotech world has changed so radically that even sensible start-ups face daunting odds. The lack IPO or acquisition possibilities force companies to rely almost entirely on partnerships. We examine three companies' strategies: Applied Microbiology is pursuing the most radical near-term strategy of all biotechs in order to cover the downside risk of its antibiotic research. Microcide cuts risk by trying to come up with as many research targets as possible, adding a mid-term focus by trying to modify current compounds into valuable niche drugs. And Cubist is racing to create a solid proprietary position around its core program, a single group of targets, hoping to offer partners a series of opportunities.

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Microcide-Althexis: Merge to License

Big Pharma in-licensing has been kind to anti-infectives start-ups Cubist and Versicor, giving them near-term products and significant valuations. Now Althexis, hoping to capitalize on similar opportunities, is merging with Microcide. The deal is a way of jumpstarting the still nascent Althexis and re-starting Microcide, re-setting its valuation and development clock. With Microcide's cephalosporin, technology-based Althexis would get the product focus it lacked. And the deal comes with $60mm in new money from investors who've bought CEO Mark Skaletsky's vision and want him to repeat his success at GelTex.

Precision Keeps Faith In Duchenne Gene-Editing After Lilly’s Exit

The company has pledged to continue developing its Duchenne in vivo gene editing therapy without Lilly, but will remain focused on its lead program in hepatitis B.

MRM Health Pulls A Pouchitis Hit Out Of The Bag

The mid-stage success is encouraging, but taking on Takeda won’t be easy.


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