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Former Innovator of the Year given £500,000 to develop antibiotic company

Former Innovator of the Year given £500,000 to develop antibiotic company - 15 January 2013. BBSRC

A former BBSRC Innovator of the Year has received £500,000 of investment from a venture capital firm to continue developing new antibiotics which target microbial DNA.

Dr Michael McArthur was named BBSRC's Most Promising Innovator of the Year in 2010. His firm Procarta Biosystems, a spin-out company from the John Innes Centre at Norwich Research Park, has been given the investment by Morningside Venture Investments to continue its work on a new type of antibiotic.

Dr McArthur said: "It is becoming recognised amongst investors and grant funders that something must be done about the challenge of antibacterial resistance. What we can offer is a genuinely novel and potent approach that can be rapidly developed to treat numerous bacterial infections, for which the number of effective treatments is dwindling.

Dr Michael McArthur, centre, with his BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year 2010 award accompanied by Dr Celia Caulcott, Director, Innovation and Skills at BBSRC and Tim Smit, Chief Executive of the Eden Project. Image: BBSRC
Dr Michael McArthur, centre, with his BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year 2010 award accompanied by Dr Celia Caulcott, Director, Innovation and Skills at BBSRC and Tim Smit, Chief Executive of the Eden Project. Image: BBSRC

"Procarta is at an important stage and the injection of funds will allow us to diversify and accelerate our development work."

Procarta is working on a new type or 'novel class' of DNA-based antibiotics capable of tackling infections caused by bacteria that have become resistant to conventional drugs. Its technique, recently award two EU patents, captures bacterial proteins called transcription factors, which control genes essential for bacteria to grow inside the cell and cause infection.

Matthew Jones, chief operating officer of Norwich Research Park said: "Procarta is a spin-out from the John Innes Centre and has expanded within the Norwich BioIncubator. The additional funding will allow it to actively collaborate with other partners on Norwich Research Park illustrating clearly the benefit of being located here.

"The new funding is vital as it will help take the company a step closer to becoming profitable through licensing its technology."

ENDS